March 13, 1999

OCALA, Fla. —Senior Willie Kent equaled the second-best round by a Notre Dame men’s golfer in the program’s recorded history Friday, firing a five-under 67 in first-round action of the Golden Ocala Invitational at Ocala Country Club, while the Irish stand in ninth place of the 17-team event-just 11 shots behind leader Richmond.

Kent-who shared medalist honors at the Iowa Intercollegiate in the fall of 1998-heads into Saturday’s final round with a one-stroke lead on Chad Collins of Methodist and a two-shot lead on Louisville’s Brad Faulkner and Joe Hill. Kent, who transferred to Notre Dame from Saint Louis University prior to the 1998 fall semester, lowered his career stroke average with the Irish to an impressive 74.25-which would best Charles Thurn’s mark of 74.43 from 1956-58 as the top career stroke average in recorded Notre Dame team history.

Kent is just the third Notre Dame men’s golfer ever known to have shot 67 or lower in an intercollegiate tournament, joining Bob Ferrel (67 vs. Detroit in 1961-62) and Mike O’Connell, Sr., who carded a round of 64 during the 1962-63 season.

The Irish head into the final round with a 297 team total, just one shot behind Louisville and Rollins, two shots behind Marshall and four behind James Madison and Ohio. A strong final day from the potent Irish lineup also could help the Irish catch any of the top three teams” Richmond (286), Vanderbilt (287) and Methodist (288).

Irish senior captain Brad Hardin posted a 76 in Friday’s action junior Todd Vernon and freshman Chris Whitten each posted a 77, followed by junior Jeff Connell (79) and freshman Steve Ratay (5)l. Whitten and Ratay are making their first appearance in an intercollegiate tournament.

The three-round tournament will continue with 18 holes on >Saturday before concluding on Sunday.

TEAM STANDINGS (18 of 36 holes): 1. Richmond 286; 2. Vanderbilt 287; 3. Methodist 288; 4. James Madison 293; Ohio 293; 6. Marshall 295; 7. Louisville 296; Rollins 296; 9. Notre Dame 297; 10. Ball State 299; 11. Michigan 300; 12. Miami 302; 13. Temple 305; 14. Penn State 308; 15. St. Louis 309; 16. Northern Illinois 312; 17. Akron 321.

TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 102): 1. Willie Kent (ND); 2. Chad Collins (METH) 68; 3. Brad Faulkner (LOU) 69; Joe Hill (OJIO) 69; 5. Chad Moseley (RICH) 70; Faber Jamerson (JMU) 70; James McIntosh (VAN) 70; 8. Jamie Broce (MIA) 71; Joe Horowitz (RICH) 71.

OTHER NOTRE DAME SCORES: Brad Hardin 76, Todd Vernon 77. Chris Whitten 77, Jeff Connell 79, Steve Ratay 85.