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Notre Dame's Willie Kent Wins Golden Ocala Invitational

March 15, 1999

OCALA, Fla. – Notre Dame senior Willie Kent captured medalist honors at the Golden Ocala Intercollegiate, after Sunday’s third round was cancelled due to rain.

Kent shot a five-under 67 on Friday-the best round by an Irish golfer since 1963-before adding a 71 in Saturday’s round for a total of six-under 138, giving him a three-stroke victory over Ball State’s Jamie Broce (71-70) and Vanderbilt’s Andy Bowers (72-69) in the 108-player tournament.

As a team, Notre Dame finished eighth out of 18 teams with a 599 total, just three shots behind Rollins College.

Kent’s 138 total represents the third-best 36-hole tournament score in the program’s history and the best in 34 years, since Mike O’Connell, Sr., posted a 137 in a 1964-65 four-team event versus Air Force, Western Illinois and Iowa. O’Connell holds the Irish 36-hole record of six-under 136, versus Northwestern, Ball State and Bellarmine in 1962-63 (both of O’Connell’s top 36-hole scores were fired at Notre Dame’s Burke Memorial Golf Course).

Kent also tied for medalist honors at the 66-player Iowa Intercollegiate during the fall of 1998, when he posted a three-over 216 (71-69-76). He joins Pat Mohan (1987-88) and Chris Dayton (1991-92) as the only Notre Dame golfers to finish first (or tied for first) in two events during the same academic year.

Kent is the first Irish golfer to finish atop two tournaments that featured fields of more than 10 teams during the same school year. Mohan won the 10-team Glen Oaks Classic (74) and the eight-team Purdue Invitational (224) while Dayton won the 90-player Indiana Intercollegiate (69-73/142) and the 35-player MCC Championship (73-73-74/220).

Notre Dame’s co-captains both posted 153 totals at the Golden Ocala, with senior Brad Hardin carding rounds of 76-77 while junior Todd Vernon had the reverse (77-76). Junior Jeff Connell added rounds of 79-78 while freshmen Steve Ratay (85-82) and Chris Whitten (77-81) rounded out the Irish contingent in their first intercollegiate event.

NOTES: Kent leads the team with a 74.20 stroke average through six events in 1998-99 while counting to the team score in 14 of his 15 rounds played other averages for 1998-99 include: Hardin (75.53, 13 rounds counted), Connell (76.33, 12 rounds counted) and Vernon (76.93, 10 rounds counted) Kent’s 74.20 season average would rank fourth in Irish history, behind Joe Grace (73.13, 1955-56), Charles Thurn (73.88, 1955-56) and Kent’s spring of 1998 mark (74.07) Kent is now on pace to set the Notre Dame record for career stroke average, as his 29 career rounds with the Irish have produced a 74.14 average (Thurn holds the record of 74.43, from 1956-58) Vernon’s career average of 75.78 remains sixth in the Irish record book while Connell is ninth at 76.29 Kent has factored into the count-four team score in 27 of his 29 rounds with the Irish while Vernon has counted in 50 of 59 and Connell in 41 of 48.

FINAL TEAM STANDINGS (36 holes): 1. Vanderbilt 287-292/579; 2. Richmond 286-300/586; 3. James Madison 293-295/588; 4. Ball State 299-292/591; 5. Methodist 288-304/592; 6. Marshall 295-298/593; 7. Rollins 296-300/596; 8. Notre Dame 297-302/599; 9. Ohio 293-307/600; 10. Miami 302-300/602; 11. Indiana 302-300/602; 12. Michigan 300-303/603; 13. Louisville 296-307/603; 14. Temple 305-299/604; 15. Northern Illinois 312-293/605; 16. Penn State 308-301/608; 17. St. Louis 309-313/622; 18. Akron 321-301/622.

TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 102): 1. Willie Kent (ND) 67-71/138; 2. Jamie Broce (MIA) 71-70/141; Andy Bowers (VAN) 72-69/141; 4. Chad Collins (METH) 68-74/142; 5. Matt Abbott (PSU) 76-67/143; 6. Joe Hill (OHIO) 69-75/144; Brad Faulkner (LOU) 69-75/144; 8. Chad Moseley (RICH) 72-75/147; Faber Jamerson (JMU) 70-75/145; Steve Childress (NIU) 74-71/145.

OTHER NOTRE DAME SCORES: Brad Hardin 76-77/153, Todd Vernon 77-76/153, Jeff Connell 79-78/157, Steve Ratay 85-82/167, Chris Whitten 77-81/158.