Oct. 23, 2003
STANFORD, Calif. – The Notre Dame men’s golf team will tee off in its last tournament of the fall season Friday at 8 a.m. (PDT) at the Nelson Invitational in Stanford, Calif. The Irish have been playing their best golf to date over the past two weeks, winning the SMU/Stonebridge Invitational on Oct. 14 and taking runner-up honors at The Tillinghast in Scarsdale, N.Y., on Tuesday. This weekend’s Nelson Invitational is a three-round event with the 15 teams in the field playing 18 holes per day at the challenging par-71, 6,835-yard Stanford Golf Course.
Among the other schools competing at this year’s Nelson Invitational are eight teams ranked in the Top 50 of the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index ratings (#16 Duke, #22 Colorado State, #23 Washington, #33 USC, #34 Kansas, #36 Toledo, #38 Missouri and #47 Texas Tech). Duke is the defending tournament champion after posting an 11-under par 841 last year, and the Blue Devils’ Leif Olson won medalist honors at 12-under par 201.
Notre Dame is playing in the Nelson Invitational for the second consecutive year, having placed 12th out of 18 teams at last year’s tournament with a team score of 877. Sophomore Mark Baldwin (Laconia, N.H./New Hampton Prep) turned in the best performance of his young career, firing a career-low four-under par 67 in the first round and winding up with a career-low 211 (-2) to finish 11th in the 96-player field. Baldwin reached two more career watersheds earlier this week at The Tillinghast, carding his lowest 36-hole score ever (148) and earning the highest individual finish of his Irish tenure (fifth).
As a team, Notre Dame is coming off consecutive top-two finishes for the first time in four years. It’s a feat that is even more impressive when considering the fact that the Irish currently are fielding a lineup composed entirely of freshmen and sophomores. The Tillinghast was the perfect showcase for Notre Dame’s youth movement, as freshman Shane Sigsbee (McKinney, Texas/McKinney HS) turned in his best showing of the season with back-to-back scores of 73 and a third-place finish. Sophomore Eric Deutsch (Rochester, Minn./Lourdes HS) narrowly missed chalking up his two-round personal best score, logging a season-low 74 in the second round and finishing seventh overall at 149 while competing as an individual.
Another freshman who sparkled in New York was Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS), who placed 10th overall with a 36-hole tally of 150. Coming into this weekend’s Nelson Invitational, Isban has shot 73 or better in five of his last seven rounds. Meanwhile, sophomore Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrews HS) will be looking to build on his second-round 70 at The Tillinghast, which pulled him up into 23rd place for the tournament. Notre Dame also will be looking for big things from sophomore Scott Gustafson (Rochester, Minn./Eden Prairie HS), who struggled a bit at The Tillinghast, but fired a career-low six-under par 210 to help the Irish win the SMU/Stonebridge Invitational less than two weeks ago. Gustafson also leads the team with a 73.90 stroke average through four tournaments this fall.
Complete results from the Nelson Invitational will be available each day on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com), as well as the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000).
– ND –