March 24, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
After a two-week hiatus since concluding a two-tournament slate over its spring break, the Notre Dame men's golf team will return to action this weekend. The Irish will take part in the Spring Break Championship from Friday-Sunday, March 26-28 at Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla., which is being hosted by Florida Atlantic University.
Notre Dame will look to build off of its recent tournament success at the Bandon Dunes Championship after capturing the team title at the event. The Irish tallied a two-round 622 at the rain-shortened event in Bandon, Ore., defeating second place Idaho by 12 strokes.
The Irish will be facing a short track at the 2010 Spring Break Championship on the Legends Course, which sets up as a 6,750-yard, par-71 challenge. It will mark the second shortest course the team will have faced on the season, with the Pacific Dunes course at the Bandon Dunes Championship being the shortest (6,536 yards).
With the extra time off after the spring break trip, Notre Dame has been able to get in several practice rounds on its home Warren Golf Course which is similar in distance to the Legends Course, coming in at just over 7,000 yards. The Irish will be looking to take what was learned over those rounds and translate it into a successful tournament finish this weekend.
"We've learned several lessons this season and one pertains to expectations," stated Irish head coach Jim Kubinski. "Certainly we expect good things when we head out to compete but more important to us is the feeling that we've prepared to the best of our ability. We'll look at Gleneagles on Thursday and put a plan together. In terms of the physical preparation, we've had a chance to get out and play a bit at home this past week. That fact certainly helps."
The Spring Break Championship will feature a pre-tournament event begins on Thursday, March 25, with more than 80 golfers participating in a pro-am tournament and practice rounds. Then the three 18-hole rounds of competition are scheduled to commence on Friday, March 26.
The Irish will be competing against a deep field at this years Spring Break Championship that features sixteen teams, including seven of the nation's top 100 teams (according to the March 24 Golfstat rankings) and four past national champions. In addition to Notre Dame (ranked 86) and the host Owls, this year's field includes Iowa (79), Michigan (36), Eastern Michigan (74), Penn State (83), Ohio State (78), Minnesota (94), St. Mary's College (Calif.), Florida Gulf Coast, USF, Murray State, Marquette, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin.
"There are several strong teams competing in Delray Beach," said Kubinski. "This field really features a strong Big 10 flavor."
"Length won't be a factor for us and neither will windy conditions, considering our experience in Oregon," Kubinski continued. "We just need to get our guys comfortable hitting the tee shots and reading the Bermuda greens correctly. If we do those things, we can win. A decisive win for us would see us jump significantly in the rankings, given the number of common opponents from our previous events also competing this week."
Last year, Notre Dame was able to earn a 10th-place finish at the Spring Break Championship after shooting a 40-over par 892 on the Legends Course. Individually the team was led by Tom Usher (Bradford, England/Guiseley School), who carded an eight-over par 221 to earn a share of 27th. The 221 also marked the lowest score of the season for Usher.
Senior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) will lead the Irish rotation into this year's tournament, having recently earned BIG EAST Golfer of the Week honors (March 12) for his medalist finish at the Bandon Dunes Championship. Fortner sat in third place entering the final round of competition before firing a final round 73 to secure the championship with an eight-over par 150 total. It was the first time in his Irish career that he captured an individual tournament crown.
The rest of the lineup remains the same as the group that had success at the Bandon Dunes Championship, featuring fellow senior Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) and a trio of sophomores in Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame Prep (AZ)), Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) and Usher.
Senior Carl Santos-Ocampo (Naples, Fla./Community School of Naples) will also be competing for the Irish at the Spring Break Championship as an individual entrant. It will mark Santos-Ocampo's first action in stroke play since also entering as an individual at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic. He finished that event tied for 53rd (228, +18).
Live hole-by-hole scoring of the 2010 Spring Break Championship will be available through Golfstat. To access the site, visit http://www.golfstatresults.com or click on the Live Stats tab on the right-hand side of the Notre Dame men's golf schedule page on und.com. Daily recaps will also be posted on und.com.