Feb. 26, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Three weeks after opening its spring season with a solid runner-up finish at the Rice Invitational, the Notre Dame men’s golf team gets back onto the links Monday and Tuesday when it participates in the 27th annual Cleveland Golf Collegiate Invitational, hosted by USC. The 54-hole event will take place at the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif., and will feature some of the nation’s top teams, including defending tourney champion and second-ranked UCLA, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 8 TCU and 10th-ranked Texas.
The Teams: This year’s Cleveland Golf Collegiate Invitational features a 17-team field that includes Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Brigham Young, California, Illinois, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, TCU, UCLA, the host school USC and Washington. UCLA is the defending tournament champion, winning last year’s event by seven strokes with a seven-under par 845. Illinois is the only other Midwest District team competing with Notre Dame in this week’s tournament, and the 24th-ranked Fighting Illini are one of nine participating teams that are appearing in the Top 25 of the latest Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA)/Precept Coaches Poll – No. 2 UCLA, No. 6 Arizona State, No. 8 TCU, No. 10 Texas, No. 16 California, No. 19 Arkansas, No. 20 Washington and No. 21 BYU are the others. In addition, three teams are receiving votes in this week’s poll – Tennessee (32 votes), Notre Dame (five) and Pepperdine (three).
Dates and Times: The 54-hole tournament will commence with 36 holes on Monday, March 1, beginning with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. (PST). Tuesday’s final round will start from the first and 10th tees at 7:45 a.m. (PST).
Irish Lineup: Third-year Notre Dame head coach John Jasinski will use a very similar lineup to the one he fielded three weeks ago at the Rice Intercollegiate. It also will be an unusually young quintet, as all five Irish golfers are underclassmen. Sophomores Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrews HS), Mark Baldwin (Laconia, N.H./New Hampton Prep) and Scott Gustafson (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie HS) each garnered all-BIG EAST Conference honors last year. This past fall, Gustafson posted a team-low 73.86 stroke average in five tournaments. Joining them will be freshman Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS), who is coming off the second Top 10 finish of his young career, and sophomore Eric Deutsch (Rochester, Minn./Lourdes HS), who tied for 56th place at 21-over par 237 as an individual competitor at the Rice Intercollegiate.
Last Tournament: Despite miserable conditions that included cold temperatures and driving rain, Notre Dame wrapped up its first spring tournament in strong fashion, carding a final round 303 to tie for second place at the Rice Intercollegiate Feb. 9-10 in Cypress, Texas. The Irish put together a powerful run down the stretch, registering the lowest team scores in each of the final two rounds to surge from ninth to second and pick up their third top-two finish of the 2003-04 season (and first this spring). Notre Dame wound up with a final score of 36-over par 900 (308-289-303) to tie with Denver, five strokes behind tournament champion Texas-San Antonio.
Irish Leaders: Balderston set the pace for Notre Dame, tying for fourth, his highest placement ever, with a two-over par 216 (78-68-72). It also was the third top-five finish and fourth top-10 showing of Balderston’s young career. Isban took home eighth-place honors at five-over 221 (75-70-76), collecting his second career top-10 finish. Baldwin was next on the Irish list of finishers, tying for 33rd place at 16-over par 232 (79-75-78). Gustafson was one stroke behind Baldwin at 233 (76-76-81), tying for 42nd place, while freshman Shane Sigsbee (McKinney, Texas/McKinney HS) shot a 23-over 239 (81-81-77) to finish 63rd overall.
Tournament Results: Live scoring from the tournament will be available on-line at www.golfstat.com. In addition, results will be available on the Notre Dame website at www.und.com after 9 p.m. (EST) on both days of the tournament.
Next For The Irish: Notre Dame heads to Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 12-14 for the Conrad Rehling Spring Invitational, hosted by Alabama.
– ND –