March 10, 2006
After getting a late start to the 2006 spring season, Notre Dame will get its campaign going in earnest when it heads to Murrells Inlet, S.C. (near Myrtle Beach) for the General Jim Hackler Invitational on Sunday and Monday. It’s the first of two Spring Break tournaments for the Irish, who then will head directly to Laredo, Texas, for the Border Olympics on March 17-18.
Notre Dame is enjoying one of its most successful seasons ever in 2005-06, currently posting a 292.13 stroke average with five top-six finishes and three wins over nationally-ranked opponents. The Irish also are receiving 11 votes in the latest GCAA/Bridgestone Top 25 poll (tied for 39th if the poll were extended), and are 48th in the Golfstat rankings. Notre Dame also has each of its tri-captains ranked among the top 100 according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index, led by senior Mark Baldwin, who is ranked at No. 54 and holds a team-best 72.07 stroke average. Junior Cole Isban is 62nd in the nation with a 72.33 stroke average, while senior Scott Gustafson is ranked 98th with a 72.80 stroke average.
Quoting Coach Kubinski…
“Our lineup will remain the same as in Naples. Once again, Mark (Baldwin) and Cole (Isban) will lead the way. They combined to make 32 birdies at the Lexus last time out. Scott (Gustafson) was a little rusty in Naples but has looked great in practice this week and should return to his Fall form. I’m very happy with the progress of Mike King. He was very close to breaking out in Naples, if not for a couple of tough stretches at the end of rounds. Greg Rodgers played very well in Myrtle Beach last season after a tough first round there. I think his familiarity with the layout will give him an extra boost of confidence.
“The field is very solid at The Hackler. There are a number of ranked teams and district foes Michigan State, Illinois and Toledo will be playing. I really like the golf course (TPC at Myrtle Beach). They have a good mix of holes, and, generally, you must drive the ball well there. If the green speeds are up like last year, there will be a premium on putting, too. All in all, this event is a great test for us.
“To be successful, and I’ll sound like a broken record from our last event, we must eliminate the ‘others’ (scores of double bogey or worse). I touched on the remarkable number of birdies we’re making. It seems we make more than any other team. We also tend to make a few mistakes. Certainly, they can go hand in hand. Playing aggressively leads to birdies and, sometimes, ‘others.’ I’d prefer to leave the ‘others’ on (the TV show) ‘LOST’. We need to play a little more intelligently this week. I’m asking the guys to spend that extra few seconds before the shot going over their thought process one last time. We’re talented enough to win. We must cut down on our errors though. I have a feeling we can make that happen this week.”
Dates and Times
Teams will play two rounds (36 holes) on Sunday, with the opening round teeing off via a shotgun start at 8 a.m. (ET). The second round will begin immediately following the conclusion of round one. Competitors will then return to the course Monday at 8 a.m. (ET) for the final round, once again using a shotgun start.
Live scoring will be available for the General Jim Hackler Invitational through the Golfstat web site (www.golfstat.com). Complete results following each day’s action also will be posted on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com). In addition, the latest information on the Irish is available on the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000). Callers should select option #9, then press #2 for the latest information on the tournament, as well as weather or scheduling delays.
The Tournament Format
A total of 15 five-man teams (75 participants, with the possibility of some teams fielding additional golfers on an individual basis) will be participating in the General Jim Hackler Invitational. Conventional collegiate golf team scoring rules will apply, with the lowest four scores in the five-man lineup for each round counting toward the team total.
Aside from Notre Dame and the host school/defending champion, Coastal Carolina, the rest of the 15-team field for the General Jim Hackler Invitational includes: Arkansas, East Tennessee State, Florida State, Illinois, Kansas State, Michigan State, UNC Wilmington, North Florida, Pepperdine, Texas Tech, Toledo, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
According to the latest GCAA/Bridgestone Top 25 poll (released March 2), two Top 25 teams will be taking part in this weekend’s tournament – No. 17 Texas Tech and 22nd-ranked East Tennessee State. Besides Notre Dame (11 votes, tied for 39th if the poll were extended), five other squads are receiving votes in the current coaches’ survey – Coastal Carolina (20 votes, 36th), Michigan State (12 votes, 38th), Pepperdine (11 votes, tie-39th), Florida State (two votes, tie-49th) and Arkansas (one vote, tie-53rd).
Meanwhile, the latest ratings in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index (as of March 6) have been compiled and six of the top 50 teams are competing in Myrtle Beach. Up front is No. 12 East Tennessee State, followed by No. 22 Texas Tech and 26th-ranked Florida State. Others in the mix include: No. 38 Coastal Carolina, No. 39 Illinois and No. 44 Michigan State. Notre Dame is just outside the top 50, currently checking in 53rd.
In addition, the latest Golfstat rankings of the 2005-06 season were released March 7 and there are eight of this weekend’s participants appearing in that service’s Top 50. East Tennessee State tops the field at No. 13, with No. 19 Texas Tech and No. 20 Pepperdine not far off. Coastal Carolina is No. 28, Florida State is 32nd, with Illinois 35th, Michigan State at No. 46 and Notre Dame at No. 48.
The Irish should be quite familiar with the rest of the field at the General Jim Hackler Invitational, having played 12 of the other 14 squads at some point this season (everyone but Kansas State and Texas Tech) and posting a combined 8-7-1 (.531) record against the field. Notre Dame has winning records against Michigan State (1-0), UNC Wilmington (2-0), North Florida (1-0), Toledo (1-0) and Virginia Tech (1-0), with even records vs. Florida State (1-1) and Virginia (1-1), and winless marks against Arkansas (0-1), Coastal Carolina (0-1), East Tennessee State (0-1), Illinois (0-1) and Pepperdine (0-1-1).
This week’s General Jim Hackler Invitational will be played at the TPC of Myrtle Beach (par 72/6,950 yards) in Murrells Inlet, S.C. Though not particularly long, this Tom Fazio-designed layout utilizes the surrounding wetlands, as well as numerous tall pines to create a difficult track that puts a premium on shot-making ability. Some of the other notable features of the course include elevated tees, sloping fairways and free-form bunkers, all of which have led Golf Digest and Golf Magazine to label the TPC of Myrtle Beach as one of the top public courses in the country.
Tourney Rewind: ’05 General Jim Hackler Invitational
Behind a final-round score of 298, Notre Dame jumped two spots to finish second overall at the General Jim Hackler Invitational, which was contested March 13-14 in Murrells Inlet, S.C. The Irish carded a 27-over par 891 (299-294-298) to wind up five strokes behind tournament host and champion Coastal Carolina. The final-round 298 was the second-lowest of the day among the 12 teams in the field and moved Notre Dame past Purdue and Kansas State into the runner-up spot.
Shane Sigsbee came within an eyelash of capturing his first tournament title, finishing tied for second place at one-under par 215 (73-70-72), one shot behind medalist Rhys Davies of East Tennessee State. Mark Baldwin tied for 14th place at nine-over par 225 (74-77-74), while Greg Rodgers finished two shots behind Baldwin in a 21st-place tie at 11-over par 227 (79-73-75). Cole Isban fought through a bout with bronchitis, ending up in a tie for 30th place at 13-over par 229 (73-74-82). Scott Gustafson rounded out the Notre Dame scoring in a 54th-place draw at 25-over par 241 (84-80-77).
Last Tournament – Lexus Naples Intercollegiate For the fifth time in six tournaments this season, Notre Dame finished in the top six, taking home fifth-place honors at the second annual Lexus Naples Intercollegiate Invitational, hosted by Peter Jacobsen Productions, which concluded Feb. 28 at the par-72, 6,912-yard Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club in Naples, Fla. The Irish shot an eight-over par 872 (293-289-290) for the two-day event, their first of the spring 2006 season, and tied their second-lowest 54-hole score of the year (only an 865 at the Coca-Cola Duke Classic was lower).
Senior tri-captain Mark Baldwin posted his best finish of the season, tying for fourth in the 60-manfield and matching both his career-low score and the second-lowest three-round total in school history with a six-under par 210 (72-69-69).
Junior tri-captain Cole Isban wound up tied for 10th place at three-under par 213 (73-69-71). Coming in tied for 29th place, sophomore Mike King logged his best finish of the season with an eight-over par 224 (74-75-75) and the second-best showing of his career when competing as a member of the travel squad (he was ninth at last year’s BIG EAST Championship). Senior tri-captain Scott Gustafson ended the tournament in a tie for 36th place at 10-over par 226 (74-77-75), while sophomore Greg Rodgers completed the Irish lineup in a 45th-place tie at 15-over par 231 (78-76-77).
Thumbnails On The Irish Lineup
Cole Isban (72.33 stroke average; second on team) – Ranked No. 62 in nation by Golfweek … posted career bests with first-place tie and 210 (-6) score at Shoal Creek Intercollegiate … has recorded eight of 15 rounds this year at par or better (seven under par), with four rounds in the 60s … owns two top-10 finishes this season (10 career) … has been exceptionally reliable, as 78 of his 85 collegiate rounds (.918) have counted towards the team score (third-best percentage by Irish golfer since 1990) … career 74.27 stroke average is tops in school history (second: 74.43 by Charles Thurn, 1956-58) … 2005 PING/All-Midwest Region selection (first Irish player to earn regional or national accolades since 1980) … two-time all-BIG EAST Conference honoree (2004, 2005) … has qualified for past two U.S. Amateur Championships.
Mark Baldwin (72.07; first on team) – Presently ranked 54th in nation by Golfweek … has team-best 10 rounds of par or better this season (six under par), with three rounds in the 60s … tied for 10th (219, +3) at season-opening Gopher Invitational … tied for sixth (career-low 210, -6) at Coca-Cola Duke Classic … matched career-low score (210, -6) and tied for fourth at Lexus Naples Intercollegiate … has ended up 20th or higher in 10 of past 13 events … has seen 34 of his last 37 rounds (.919) – and all 12 this season – counted towards the team score (not counting 2005 CordeValle after team DQ) … has seven career top-10 finishes (three this year), with six of those coming in little more than one year (Oct. 2004-present) … shot school and Warren Golf Course-record 63 (-7) in opening round of TCU dual match on April 9, 2005 … two-time all-BIG EAST (2003; 2005 – medalist).
Scott Gustafson (72.80; third on team) – 98th-ranked player in nation by Golfweek … 14 of 15 rounds this year have counted to team score (not including CordeValle after team DQ) … led team with 218 (+2) at Gopher Invitational … tacked on eighth-place tie at Coca-Cola Duke Classic with 211 (-5) … tied for third at Prestige at PGA WEST (214, -2) for his eight career top-10 finish and 13th team-leading finish (tied-third in school history) … also played 100th collegiate round in final circuit at Gopher Invitational … second among Irish veterans with 75.19 career stroke average (ninth in school history) … 2003 all-BIG EAST selection.
Mike King (76.25; sixth on team) – Coming off best finish of season (and second-best as member of travel squad) with 29th-place tie at Lexus Naples Intercollegiate (224, +8) … tied for 45th at CordeValle Collegiate to end the fall, firing a career-low 68 (-4) in the opening round en route to a score of 223 (+7) … tied for 44th place at The Prestige (226, +10), including opening-round 71 (-1) … had three top-10 finishes in nine starts as a rookie, including tie for ninth at the BIG EAST Championship.
Greg Rodgers (75.92; fifth on team) – Second-year player who has made travel squad four times this season … best finish came in his last start, a tie for 45th at the Lexus Naples Intercollegiate (231, +15) … tied for 50th place at The Prestige at PGA WEST (227, +11) … lowest score was an eight-over par 224 at the Coca-Cola Duke Classic.
Next Up For The Irish
Notre Dame closes out its spring break swing through the South March 17-18 with a visit to Laredo, Texas, for the Border Olympics at the Laredo Country Club. The Irish are back in the event after a two-year hiatus, having placed 14th in the 20-team tournament at 21-over par 885 back in 2003. Current senior Eric Deutsch was Notre Dame’s top finisher that weekend, tying for 28th place at three-over par 219.