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Men’s Golf: Irish play well despite poor finish at Kepler

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Irish ended their weekend tournament on a high-note, shooting their best round of the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate on their way to a 10th-place finish.

“We struggled at [the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate],” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “Yet, we had split our starters between that event and the one that finished up in Chicago today as a preparation strategy for our Big East championship. We felt that each player would benefit from a different preparation arena.”

The Irish started the two-day, three-round tournament with a 25-over 309, before stumbling in the second round with a 31-over 315 that put them in 11th place overall after the first day. The Irish fought back on the second day of the tournament, though, recording a 21-over 305 and moving back into 10th place in the 13-team tournament.

“I was disappointed in our finish but pleased with the way our players competed,” Kubinski said. “I liked the fact that our guys gave it their best in spite of not getting the scores we had hoped for.”

Notre Dame’s all-conference junior Doug Fortner led the Irish in the Kepler Intercollegiate, finishing 14 over par, good enough to put him in a tie for 18th individually, his third top-20 finish this season. His best round was his first, when he shot a one-over 72 in the morning on the first day.

“[Fortner] is a very good college player right now,” Kubinski said. “He can be an elite player. His final round was also outstanding except for two mental errors mid-round. He has to learn to stay mentally alert on every shot.”

The best score on Sunday in the last round of the tournament for the Irish came from sophomore Jeff Chen, who shot a three-over 74 to lead Notre Dame back into 10th place. Chen finished the weekend at 16-over, which put him in sole possession of 25th overall.

“Jeff finished with a heck of a round,” Kubinski said. “I liked the fact that our guys gave it their best in spite of not getting the scores we had hoped for.”

The Irish scoring was rounded out by junior co-captain Olavo Batista, who finished in a tie for 55th place, shooting a 25-over 238, and by junior Carl Santos-Ocampo and freshman Tom Usher, both of whom shot plus-26 239, putting them in a tie for 59th overall.

Next stop for the Irish is the Big East championship on April 19 in Dade City, Fla.

“We just can’t take a round off,” Kubinski said. “We need to play solid, focused rounds each day and we’ll have a great chance to take home the trophy.”