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Irish back on track after bad first month

Michael Blasco | Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Notre Dame appears to have turned a corner.

After a month and a half of disappointing tournament play, the Irish head into the final two rounds of the Prestige at PGA WEST Intercollegiate in a respectable eighth place in the field of 16.

Notre Dame carded a 19-over 307 in the first round, while TCU sits in first place with a 6-over 294 at the 7,156-yard Greg Norman Course at PGA WEST in La Quinta, Calif.

Irish head coach Jim Kubinski was excited about the chance such a prominent tournament provided for his young team to redeem itself after its early missteps.

“We have a big week in front of us,” Kubinski said. “The Prestige itself is one of the very best collegiate events in the country. This is also a tremendous opportunity for us. We can show what we’re made of.”

Sophomore Connor Alan-Lee leads Notre Dame in scoring after shooting a 1-over 73. Alan-Lee scattered three bogeys and two birdies to finish tied for seventh. Junior Doug Fortner, who has been the most consistent scorer for the Irish this season, fired a 5-over 77 on the back of his eagle on the par 5, 536-yard second. Fortner sits in 27th place heading into the second round.

Freshman Tom Usher, coming off his first collegiate tournament at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Invitational last week, shot a 78 to move himself into 38th place. Usher rebounded after a 7-over front nine, carding two birdies and a single bogey down the stretch to finish 6-over on the round. Junior Carlos Santos-Ocampo tallied a 7-over 79, good enough for 53rd overall. Sophomore Dustin Zhang, who struggled at last week’s tournament had a 17-over 89. Zhang added a 5-over seventh hole to four double bogeys, six bogeys, and two birdies to end the round in 82nd place. But Zhang’s score was the high score for Notre Dame and did not factor into its overall score.

Despite its struggles, Notre Dame flashed some of the talent and toughness Kubinski has seen in his young golfers.

“I’d like to talk more about what [the golfers are] all bringing to our team this week but, honestly, actions speak louder than words,” Kubinski said. “I expect they’ll … really show us something. They haven’t lost their resolve after a tough performance. In fact, I think they’re eager to get back out and play Notre Dame golf.”

The second round of the Prestige concluded late Monday evening. Play resumes this morning, the third and final beginning at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start.