March 24, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former Notre Dame men’s golf standout Mark Baldwin fired a six-under par 66 to earn medalist honors at one of two Monday afternoon qualifiers for the Nationwide Tour’s Chitimacha Louisiana Open, which tees off Thursday at the Le Triomphe Golf and Country Club in Broussard, La. The Laconia, N.H., native will be making his first appearance on the Nationwide Tour, the developmental circuit for the PGA Tour.
Baldwin carded seven birdies and just one bogey to claim a two-stroke victory at the wind-swept “open” qualifier that was contested on the Wetlands Golf Course at Squirrel Run Golf Club in New Iberia, La. He was one of 14 golfers to play their way into the Louisiana Open through the Monday qualifiers at the New Iberia site.
All told, 144 golfers will compete in this week’s $550,000 Louisiana Open, including 10 former PGA Tour winners. Among the notables scheduled to compete in the tournament are 1996 PGA Championship winner Mark Brooks, 1993 TOUR Championship victor Jim Gallagher, Jr., and current CBS-TV golf analyst Bobby Clampett, who is preparing to join the Champions Tour (players 50 and older) in 2010.
First-round action at the Louisiana Open, the first domestic stop on the Nationwide Tour after three consecutive international events, gets underway Thursday and continues with second-round play on Friday. The field then will be cut to the top 60 players plus ties for the weekend’s final two rounds. The tournament champion will earn a Nationwide Tour exemption for the remainder of the 2009 season, as well as the entire 2010 season. In addition, the top 25 finishers in Louisiana will earn an exemption into the following week’s event (the Stonebrae Classic at the TPC San Francisco Bay in Hayward, Calif.).
Baldwin was a three-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection during his four seasons at Notre Dame (2002-03 to 2005-06), becoming one of only three players in Irish history to earn three all-conference citations (along with Cole Isban and Chris Dayton, the latter doing so in the old Midwestern Collegiate Conference). In addition, Baldwin was the 2005 BIG EAST Championship medalist and helped the Irish win three consecutive conference titles and make three NCAA regional appearances (both from 2003-05) during his career. He ranks 11th on the school’s all-time stroke average (75.04), and his 73.17 stroke average as a senior tri-captain in 2005-06 remains the fifth-best in the program’s 80-year history.
However, Baldwin’s most notable achievement at Notre Dame may have come on April 9, 2005, when he carded a school-record 63 (-7) in the first round of a 36-hole dual match against TCU at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course. His score eclipsed a 42-year-old Irish record (64 by Mike O’Connell, Sr., in a 1963 quadrangular match at the old Notre Dame Golf Course) and led to one of his 10 team-best finishes, which rank sixth in school history.
Since graduating from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters in May 2006 with a degree in film, television & theater, Baldwin has turned his attention towards qualifying for the PGA Tour, playing in numerous events both domestically and internationally, including a run to the final stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School. Most recently, he has competed on the Minor League Golf Tour (MLGT) based in southeast Florida, where he claimed his first professional tournament title on Feb. 25 (the DBS 2-Day Event at the Fountains Country Club in Lake Worth, Fla.) and has posted four top-five finishes and seven top-10 placements in 10 events to date.
Fans wishing to follow Baldwin’s progress at this week’s Louisiana Open can do so by accessing the live scoring feature at the Nationwide Tour’s web site (http://www.pgatour.com/h/leaderboard). Baldwin also maintains a web page to update fans on his professional career — that page can be found at http://markbaldwingolf.googlepages.com/home.
— ND —