Aug. 25, 1998
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Notre Dame junior Jeff Connell (La Crosse, Wis./Aquinas HS) posted an even-par 70 in second round action Tuesday at the United States Amateur Championship, held at the 6,908-yard Oak Hill Country Club, and remained in contention to advance to Wednesday’s match-play competition at the rain-delayed event.
Connell is one of 11 entrants tied for 33rd among the 156 golfers who had morning tee times, with the rest of the 312-player field yet to finish as of 7:00 p.m. eastern time. Play was suspended at 4:29 due to rain and resumed at 6:30, allowing for roughly 90 minutes before darkness.
The afternoon threesomes teed off from 11:45 a.m. to 1:39 p.m. Any groups that do not finish on Tuesday night will complete play on Wednesday morning, with the 64-player match-play competition to follow. The match-play format will include one round on Wednesday, two on Thursday and single rounds on Friday and Saturday. The 36-hole championship final is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 30 at Oak Hill, site of the 1995 Ryder Cup.
Due to the rain delay, any needed playoff holes to determine the field of 64 will not be played until Wednesday. If an exact top-64 is not reached, an “elimination-style” playoff will be held. (Thus, if 12 players are tied for 60th, they all will participate in a single hole playoff for the final five spots.)
Only 18 players shot under 70 in Monday’s first full round, including seven co-leaders at 68. Connell’s second-round 70 was bested by only nine other golfers in Tuesday’s first group of 156.
In Monday’s opening round, Connell struggled on the front nine, shooting a five-over 40 before bouncing back with a one-over 36 on the back nine. He again finished strong on Tuesday, posting a two-under 33 on the back nine after a 37 over the first nine holes.
Connell stood tied for 164th after Monday’s action but moved ahead of 38 of his fellow Tuesday morning competitors. Of the 156 remaining golfers with Tuesday afternoon tee times, 88 shot 75 or lower in the opening round.
Connell advanced to the U.S. Amateur from one of 89 sectional tournaments, which featured 6,607 total competitors that met the 2.4 minimum handicap index. His two-over 142 at Watertown (Wis.) Country Club on Aug. 17 tied with Alex Antonio for medalist honors, sending both golfers on to the U.S. Amateur.
Joel Kribel (Pleasanton, Calif.) used a 66 on Tuesday to surge atop the first group, with a two-round total of 136. Other top finishers at the halfway point of the second round are: Charles Howell (70-67/137), Bob Kearney (70-69/139), Hunter Haas (73-66/139), Jesse Hibler (68-72/140), Randy Leen (71-69/140) and Scott McGihon (68-72/140).
The only other golfers who bested Connell’s second round were Bryce Molder (69), Jedd McLuen (67), Tom Johnson (68) and Brad Hyler (65).
Among Connell’s noteworthy accomplishments Tuesday was shooting better than defending champion Matt Kuchar, who posted a two-over 72 for a 142 total (tied for 14th among Tuesday’s first group).
Tuesday’s second group of 156 included 16 golfers who shot 75 in the first round, 18 who shot 74, 13 who shot 73, 14 who shot 72, 10 who shot 71, six who shot 70, nine who shot 69 and three who were tied for the lead with opening 68s. In order to maintain a shot at advancing, Connell needs to finish ahead of 57 of those 88 golfers, while not being passed by any players who shot 76 or higher in the first round. Hyler (77-65) was the only player who jumped past Connell on Tuesday.
Four of five starters are slated to return for the Notre Dame men’s golf team in 1998-99, as the program looks for its first NCAA tournament berth since 1966. That group includes the team’s co-captains–senior Brad Hardin (1996 BIG EAST Conference runner-up) and junior Todd Vernon (’97 BIG EAST medalist)–in addition to senior Willie Kent, who joined the program in the spring of 1998 after transferring from St. Louis University.
Connell finished fourth on the 1997-98 Irish team with a 75.48 stroke average while factoring in the count-four team score during 25 of 27 rounds. He owns a 76.27 career stroke average, with 29 of his 33 rounds counting to the team score. His top 1997-98 finishes included third at the Butler Spring Invitational (148/+6) and second at the Marshall Invitational (209/-4).
Scores halfway through the second round of stroke play at the 1998 U.S. Amateur Championship, played Tuesday at the 6,908-yard, par 70 East Course and the 6,574-yard West Course at Oak Hill Country Club (only the top 43 of 156 scores are listed):
Joel Kribel, Pleasanton, Calif. 70-66-136;Charles Howell, Augusta, Ga. 70-67-137;Bob Kearney, Houston, Texas 70-69-139;Hunter Haas, Norman, Okla. 73-66-139;Jesse Hibler, Boise, Idaho 68-72-140;Randy Leen, Dayton, Ohio 71-69-140;Scott McGihon, Bermuda Dunes, Calif. 68-72-140;Aaron Baddeley, Australis 71-70-141;Bryce Molder, Conway, Ark. 72-69-141;Tom McKnight, Galax, Va. 70-71-141;Jedd McLuen, Colbert, Ga. 74-67-141;Paul Schlachter, Bridgeville, Pa. 71-70-141;Jerry Courville, Milford, Conn. 70-71-141;Rod Souza, Stockton, Calif. 71-71-142;Jason Dufner, Olmsted Falls, Ohio 71-71-142;Tom Johnson, Fair Oaks, Calif. 74-68-142;Matt Kuchar, Lake Mary, Fla. 70-72-142;Brad Hyler, Raleigh, N.C. 77-65-142;Adam Scott, San Diego, Calif. 72-70-142;Patrick Carter, Lesage, W.Va. 68-74-142;Landry Mahan, Richardson, Texas 72-71-143;Ryan Lavoie, Pasco, Wash. 73-70-143;Danny Green, Jackson, Tenn. 73-70-143;Young Matt Ion, Ontario, Canada 73-70-143;Jim Spagnolo, Fort Worth, Texas 71-73-144;Rich Morris, El Dorado, Kan. 69-75-144;John Pitt, Wilmington, N.C. 71-73-144;Taylor Hough, Spartanburg, S.C. 74-70-144;Bill Lunde, Henderson, Nev. 73-71-144;Richard Dukelow, Chicago, Ill. 74-70-144;Ben Garner, Lake Forest, Calif. 72-72-144;Wilfredo Morales, Dorado, Puerto Rico 74-71-145;James Oh, Lakewood, Calif. 73-73-146;Richard Smith, Dresden, Tenn. 69-77-146;Mitch Voges, Simi Valley, Calif. 68-78-146;Jeff Barney, Minneapolis, Minn. 75-71-146;Jeff Connell, La Crosse, Wis. 76-70-146;Korky Kemp, Greensboro, N.C. 72-74-146;Trevor Immelman, South Africa 77-69-146;Brian Ahern, W Hartford, Conn. 74-72-146;Gregory Boyette, Akron, Ohio 74-72-146 ;Duke Delcher, Bluffton, S.C. 76-70-146;Robert Blaze, Masury, Ohio 76-70-146.
Note: full and updated results are available at www.usga.org.