Aug. 1, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior All-America candidate Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian HS) headlines a group of four Irish golfers who will tee off in the 104th Western Amateur Championship, which begins Wednesday and continues through Sunday at Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club in Benton Harbor, Mich. Isban and fellow senior-to-be Adam Gifford (Plymouth, Ind./Plymouth HS) will join rising Notre Dame juniors Mike King (Sidney, Ohio/Sidney HS) and Eddie Peckels (Pinehurst, N.C./Pope John Paul II (Fla.) HS) in the 156-man field for this year’s Western Amateur, which historically has been one of the country’s top amateur golf tournaments. Past Western Am champions have included Tiger Woods (1994), Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1991), Chris DiMarco (1988), Justin Leonard (1992-93) and Ben Crenshaw (1973).
Gifford and King will get things going for the Irish during Wednesday’s morning flight, with King set to tee off at 7:39 a.m. (EDT) at No. 1, followed by Gifford from the 10th tee at 7:48 p.m. (EDT). Isban will start his first round at 1:23 p.m. (EDT) from the first tee, while Peckels will open tournament play at 1:50 p.m. (ET) on No. 10.
Last year, Notre Dame qualified five golfers for the Western Am, including Isban and King. Isban joined recent graduates Mark Baldwin and Scott Gustafson in making the 36-hole cut (top 50 golfers plus ties), with the South Bend native and two-time all-Midwest Region selection eventually finishing the four-round qualifier in 13th place at three-over par 283 (69-71-74-69). That placement was good enough to put Isban into the 16-man match play tree, although he was eliminated in his opening match by Randy Lowry, 5 & 3. Isban also made the 36-hole cut in 2004, becoming the first South Bend-area golfer since ’01 to advance that far, but his 72-hole score of 12-over par 292 (72-71-75-74) left him shy of reaching match play.
Meanwhile, King didn’t survive the 36-hole cut at last year’s Western Am, finishing seven strokes off the demarcation line at 13-over par 153 (74-79). This week’s tournament will represent the first-ever appearance for both Gifford and Peckels at the Western Am.
Fans who may not be able to follow the progress of the Notre Dame quartet at this week’s Western Amateur Championship in person may do so on the Internet by visiting the Golfstat web site for live scoring updates. Schedules, records and other information also may be found on-line through the Western Amateur official web site.
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U.S. AMATEUR QUALIFIER UPDATE: Incoming Notre Dame freshman Kyle Willis (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest HS) has qualified as an alternate for the 2006 U.S. Amateur Championship following his third-place tie at Monday’s 36-man sectional qualifier in Chesterton, Ind., at the Sand Creek Country Club. Willis fired a nine-over par 153 (76-77) and wound up four shots shy of the second automatic qualification spot awarded at that site. Notre Dame now has two automatic qualifiers (Isban and sophomore Josh Sandman) and two alternates (Willis and Gifford) for the 106th U.S. Amateur, which is slated for Aug. 21-27 in Chaska, Minn. Two more Notre Dame golfers — incoming freshman Doug Fortner and senior Shane Sigsbee — will look to add to that total when they tee off in U.S. Amateur qualifiers next Monday (Aug. 7) in West Covina, Calif., and Bridgewater, N.J., respectively.