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Men’s Golf: Seniors lead in Tennessee

Douglas Farmer | Monday, September 28, 2009

Two seniors led Notre Dame to an impressive fifth place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Tennessee Sunday.

Seniors Doug Fortner and Josh Sandman both finished the two-round, 17-team tournament under par, as the Irish shot a cumulative score of 562 to finish six under par as a team. No. 45 Notre Dame ended six shots behind the winner, No. 34 Middle Tennessee State, but used three birdies on the final hole to top host No. 35 Vanderbilt by one stroke.

“The guys did a good job. We played pretty well, but left some shots out there for sure,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “As a matter of fact, toward the end of the front nine today we were 10 under for the tournament, about two shots out of the lead, and we played a tough stretch of holes where we really didn’t putt well.”

At one point the Irish dropped down as low as 12 shots under par, before six bogeys and one double bogey in the final nine shots hurt Notre Dame’s hopes of a first-place finish.

Fortner led the Irish to a fifth place standing after the first round of the tournament by finishing the round four shots under par. Sunday Fortner shot even par, to finish at four-under for the weekend and tie for seventh in the tournament.

“Doug played a nice event,” Kubinski said. “I was really happy to see him bounce back so strongly after [a poor showing at] Minnesota. Honestly, he is going to go nowhere but up and will have a great season for us.”

Sandman also finished the invite under par. He followed an even first round Friday with a two-under round Sunday. Sandman tied for 16th in the tournament.

“Josh mentioned to me on the way back that he didn’t hit the ball well but worked as hard as he could out here and used his short game and got the best score he could out of it,” Kubinski said.

Both of the seniors birdied the final hole, as did sophomore Chris Walker. The trio of birdies moved Notre Dame to the front of four teams competing for fifth place.

Both Walker and junior Connor Allan-Lee finished the weekend one shot over par, tied for 30th place.

“All of the guys played well,” Kubinski said. “But they are all going to get better, and there will be some really low rounds in the coming weeks.”

The tournament was originally scheduled to be three rounds, but the second round was rained out Saturday, leaving the Irish with some downtime.

“It was interesting because I believe in doing something every day to get better,” Kubinski said. “It was a good chance to bond. The guys watched a couple of movies and just hung out. We did know that it would become a one-day shootout and the team that scored the lowest would probably win.”

While Notre Dame could not match Middle Tennessee State’s 11-under Sunday, the Irish shot low enough to keep Kubinski optimistic.

“We picked up a 12-4 record this week against division one teams,” Kubinski said. “So at 18-9 on the season, I think that puts us right about where we need to be. But our best golf is definitely ahead of us from what I’ve seen so far.”