May 18, 2006
ORLANDO – On a day where fortunes were as largely unpredictable as the shifting winds in central Florida, the Notre Dame men’s golf team is in 16th place through the first round of play at the NCAA East Regional, which teed off Thursday at the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club (par 72/7,179 yards) in Orlando. Making their third consecutive regional appearance (and 33rd NCAA trip overall), the Irish carded a 12-over par 300 and find themselves 16 strokes back of tournament leader (and top-ranked) Georgia (284). The top 10 teams in the regional will advance to the NCAA Championships, with Notre Dame currently three shots off the cut line (Jacksonville, 297) after 18 holes.
As the No. 16 seed in this weekend’s tournament, the Irish drew the early morning tee time on Thursday, allowing them the chance to play the course before the central Florida heat and winds got cranked up. At the turn, Notre Dame was a collective one-over par and actually got back to level par when freshman Josh Sandman (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) dropped in a birdie putt on No. 10. However, success on the back nine often depends on a team’s ability to negotiate the winds coming in off the three lakes on the property (Lake Nona, Buck Lake, Red Lake). Those winds turned out to blow the Irish scores off course a bit and drop them back in the pack.
Senior tri-captain Scott Gustafson (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie) is the top Irish golfer to this point, firing a first-round score of even-par 72 to stand in a 15th-place tie among the 141 players in the field. It was Gustafson’s lowest round in three NCAA regional appearances and his 13th round of par or better this year.
Sandman and senior tri-captain Mark Baldwin (Laconia, N.H./New Hampton Prep) shot matching scores of three-over par 75 and are tied for 53rd place through one round. Baldwin went out in one-under par 35 and remained there through 12 holes before a run of four bogeys in five holes. Meanwhile, Sandman battled his way back from a couple of early bogeys with three birdies and was in red numbers through 14 holes before closing out in four-over par.
Senior Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrews) ended his first day in 99th place at six-over par 78, a deceptive score that was blemished by five bogeys in a six-hole stretch midway through the back nine. Conversely, junior tri-captain Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian) had a rare off-day with a seven-over par 79 (109th place), with three double bogeys marring what turned out to be only the second time all season (34 rounds) Isban’s score didn’t count to the team total.
Notre Dame will be paired with Georgia Southern and Maryland for Friday’s second round, with the first Irish golfers set to get underway at 12:12 p.m. (ET) from the No. 10 tee at Lake Nona. Regular in-progress updates will be filed live from the course on the Notre Dame Sports Hotline (574-631-3000; option #9), while scores will be updated every three holes on the Golfstat web site. A final recap will be posted on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com) upon completion of the day’s action.
— ND —