March 11, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s golf team will have a prime opportunity to gain ground in the Midwest District rankings and position itself for postseason competition when it takes part in the 27th annual Conrad Rehling Spring Invitational Friday through Sunday at the par 72, 7,041-yard Ol’ Colony Golf Complex in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Hosted by the University of Alabama, the 54-hole tournament will feature seven teams in the Top 50 of the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index rankings, as well as five of the top 12 teams in the Midwest District, including Notre Dame.
The Teams: This year’s Conrad Rehling Spring Invitational has a 13-team field that includes Alabama, UAB, Georgia State, Jacksonville (Ala.) State, Kent State, Kentucky, Notre Dame, North Florida, Michigan State, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Toledo and Tulane. Auburn won last year’s tournament by eight strokes, defeating Alabama with a five-over par 857 when the event was held at the Capstone Club (par 71). Besides Notre Dame, there are four other Midwest District teams competing at the Rehling Invitational – Kent State, Kentucky, Michigan State and Toledo. In addition, more than half of the teams (seven) in this year’s field are in the Top 50 of the current Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index rankings – #21 Kentucky, #30 Georgia State, #39 Toledo, #42 Michigan State, #46 Jacksonville State, #47 Kent State and #50 UAB.
Dates and Times: Teams will play 18 holes each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the first Notre Dame golfer scheduled to tee off Friday at 8:24 a.m. (CST). Exact tee times for the final two rounds will be assigned following Friday’s round, with the first golfers slated to start at 8 a.m. (CST).
Irish Lineup: Notre Dame will send out a young but talented lineup this weekend, as its top three golfers all have posted scoring averages under 75.0 this season. Sophomore Scott Gustafson (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie HS) is coming off a 14th-place finish at the Cleveland Golf Collegiate Invitational, firing a three-over par 216, and he owns a team-low 74.15 stroke average in 2003-04. Fellow sophomore Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrews HS) has had the hot hand during the spring season thus far, leading the team with a 74.5 stroke average (74.59 overall this year) and six rounds at even par or better. Freshmen Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS) and Shane Sigsbee (McKinney, Texas/McKinney HS) also will be in the Irish lineup on Friday. Isban is third on the team in stroke average (74.79) and is looking to rebound after an uncharacteristic 21-over par 234 at the Cleveland Invitational. Meanwhile, Sigsbee has the fourth-best stroke average on the team (76.43) and should be the most rested of the Irish golfers, having not played since last month’s Rice Intercollegiate. Sophomore Mark Baldwin (Laconia, N.H./New Hampton Prep) will occupy the fifth spot in the Notre Dame lineup, while sophomore Eric Deutsch (Rochester, Minn./Lourdes HS) also made the trip and will participate as an individual competitor in the tournament.
Last Tournament: Gustafson carded a three-over par 216 (73-68-75) to tie for 14th place at the 27th annual Cleveland Golf Collegiate Invitational which concluded March 2 in Westlake Village, Calif. As a team, the Irish finished 17th in the 17-team field with a score of 66-over 918 (297-310-311) at the par 71, 6,815-yard North Ranch Country Club. Gustafson’s 14th-place finish was his best since he placed third at the SMU/Stonebridge Invitational back in October. His performance was highlighted by a career-low 68 in the second round, and his final score of 216 was his second-lowest of the 2003-04 campaign (he fired a six-under par 210 at the SMU tourney).
Irish Leaders: Behind Gustafson, Balderston was tied for 64th at 229 (+16), followed by Isban in a 78th-place tie at 234 (+21). Deutsch wound up in 85th place (239, +26), while Baldwin was 90th overall at 37-over par 250.
Tournament Results: Live scoring from the tournament will be available on-line through the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and Alabama (www.rolltide.com) athletics web sites. In addition, results will be available at www.und.com upon completion of each round on all three days of the tournament.
Next For The Irish: Notre Dame will have three weeks off before returning to action April 3-4 at the Cleveland Golf/Augusta State Invitational in Augusta, Ga.
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