April 9, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men’s golf team will get one final opportunity to refine its game before the BIG EAST Championship when it takes part in the Boilermaker Invitational Saturday and Sunday in West Lafayette, Ind. The Irish are coming off their best performance of the spring and another similar outing this weekend could offer some quality momentum when the conference tourney comes to town in two weeks.
Dates and Times: Teams will play the first two rounds (36 holes) on Saturday and come back for the final 18 holes on Sunday. The first round will be a shotgun start with golfers teeing off in threesomes around the course beginning at 8 a.m. (EST). Tee times for the second and third rounds will be contingent upon team scores at the conclusion of the previous round.
The Course: The Boilermaker Invitational will be contested on the Kampen Course at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind. The Kampen Course is a par 72, 7,200-yard layout which will play host to the 2004 NCAA Central Regional on May 20-22.
The Teams: This year’s Boilermaker Invitational features an 18-team field that also includes Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Kent State, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Purdue, TCU and Wisconsin. All of the teams in this year’s field are using this tournament as a preview of the NCAA Central Regional on the same course next month. All 18 squads in the tournament come out of the Midwest and Central districts, which feed into the Central Regional.
This year’s field will be a challenging one, with more than half of the teams (10) appearing in the Top 50 of the current Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index rankings – #5 Oklahoma State, #9 TCU, #18 Oklahoma, #24 Kentucky, #33 Kansas State, #35 Colorado, #41 Northwestern, #43 Illinois, #44 Indiana and #46 Kent State. Notre Dame is ranked 81st in the latest poll.
Irish At The Boilermaker Invitational: This weekend’s Boilermaker Invitational could be the start of a revival of an annual tournament Purdue had hosted for approximately a quarter of a century (1970-95). Notre Dame was a regular participant in the old Purdue Invitational, competing 18 times with five top-three finishes and the tournament title in 1979.
Tournament Results: Results from the Boilermaker Invitational will be available at www.und.com upon completion of action on both days of the tournament. In addition, scoring updates from the tournament will be posted on the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000) as they become available.
Irish Lineup: After an encouraging performance last weekend, third-year Irish head coach John Jasinski will send out much the same lineup as he did at the Cleveland Golf/ASU Invitational. Sophomore Scott Gustafson (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie HS) has been a steady force at the top of the card, registering a team-best 74.17 stroke average this spring and a 74.00 mark for the entire 2003-04 season. Freshman Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS) has burst upon the scene this year, turning in a fine rookie campaign that has seen him fire a 75.58 in the spring and a 74.92 season average. Despite a rocky outing last weekend, sophomore Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrews HS) remains one of Notre Dame’s top golfers, tying Isban for the second-lowest spring average (75.58), while placing third with a 75.13 overall mark. Sophomore Mark Baldwin (Laconia, N.H./New Hampton Prep) recorded his best tournament score in more than a year last weekend and will look to follow that up at Purdue – he owns a 77.92 spring average and a 77.30 score in 2003-04. The fifth spot in the lineup has changed hands regularly during the spring, with sophomore Eric Deutsch (Rochester, Minn./Lourdes HS) taking his turn this weekend. Deutsch has a 79.11 spring stroke average, while logging a 77.65 overall mark.
Last Tournament: Notre Dame posted its best score of the spring, firing a 28-over par 892 (298-300-294) to finish tied for 14th place at the Cleveland Golf/Augusta State Invitational last weekend in Augusta, Ga. The Irish were led by sophomore Mark Baldwin, who carded a two-over par 218 (74-74-70), his best mark since October 2002, and wound up in a tie for 18th place. Sophomore Scott Gustafson was four strokes behind Baldwin in 35th place at six-over 222 (75-74-73), while freshman Cole Isban was four shots further back at 10-over 226 (75-73-78) in 62nd place. Sophomores Tommy Balderston and Daniel Klauer (Granger, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS) tied for 82nd place with matching scores of 234 (+18) – Klauer showed steady improvement throughout the weekend, finishing with a career-low 74 in the final round and a career-low 234 for the tourney.
Tough Schedule: No one can say Notre Dame has backed away from top competition this year. In fact, during the course of the 2003-04 season, the Irish have faced 42 of the top 50 teams in the country, according to the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index rankings. Notre Dame also has played eight of the top 10 teams in that poll, as well as 14 of the 18 teams that competed in last year’s NCAA Championships, including defending national champion Clemson and runner-up Oklahoma State.
Second Servings: The Irish have posted their best team scores during the second round of tournament play this year, carding a 298.67 in the middle 18 holes. Leading the charge in the second round have been sophomores Scott Gustafson (72.56) and Tommy Balderston (74.63), along with freshman Cole Isban (73.25).
Making It Count: Freshman Cole Isban has been particularly efficient in his rookie season at Notre Dame. The South Bend native has seen 92 percent of his rounds (23 of 25) count towards the team score in 2003-04. Sophomore Scott Gustafson isn’t far behind Isban with 88.5 percent of his rounds (23 of 26) counting this year.
Team Records Watch: Notre Dame has recorded a 299.85 stroke average in 2003-04, which stands as the fifth-best team total in school history and the best in the three-year tenure of head coach John Jasinski. The Irish are not far off the top scoring mark in the program’s history, a 298.29 average set by the 1999-2000 squad.
Individual Records Watch: Sophomore Scott Gustafson’s current 74.00 season stroke average is fifth-best in school history, while freshman Cole Isban’s 74.92 mark is good for 16th on the Irish single-season charts. Only five times in Notre Dame’s 72-year golf history have two teammates posted sub-75 scoring averages for an entire season – 1955-56 (Joe Grace – 73.13 and Charles Thurn – 73.88), 1997-98 (Willie Kent – 74.07 and Todd Vernon – 74.59), 1998-99 (Kent – 74.76 and Brad Hardin – 74.81), 1999-00 (Vernon – 74.18 and Steve Ratay – 74.54) and 2000-01 (Ratay – 73.68 and Alex Kent – 74.18). Another stat to watch is Tommy Balderston’s current 75.13 stroke average … Notre Dame has never had three players card sub-75 scoring averages for an entire campaign.
Next For The Irish: Notre Dame will play host to the 2004 BIG EAST Championship April 24-25 at the Warren Golf Course on the Notre Dame campus. The Irish led much of the way at last year’s conference tourney before placing second, two strokes behind eventual winner and NCAA qualifier Virginia Tech.
– ND –