March 7, 2005
Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. – A solid opening round followed by disappointing play in the afternoon has the Notre Dame men’s golf team in sixth place after the first 36 holes of play at the Irish Spring Invitational. The Fighting Irish, who are serving as the host of the tournament, fired a five-over par 293 in the first round and followed that up with a 19-over par 307 at the par 72, 6,901 El Campeon Golf Course at the Mission Inn Resort. Wichita State is atop the 13-team field after posting a three-under par 573 on the day. The Shockers Judd Easterling is tied with San Diego State’s Andrew Scott for the individual lead after they both carded three-under par 141’s.
Notre Dame took to the very challenging El Campeon course on a high note after capturing a playoff victory at the NOKIA Sugar Bowl Tulane Invitational last Tuesday. The Irish continued their hot play in the morning as sophomore Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton, Fla.) carded a one-under par 71, while playing in his home state. Cole Isban (South Bend, Ind.) was just one shot in back of his classmate Balderston with an even-par 72. Balderston registered an 80 in the afternoon to finish with a 151, which places him in a tie for 22nd with teammate Greg Rodgers (Phoenix, Md.) (76-75). Isban carded a 76 for the second 18 holes to lead the team in a tie for 12th heading into Tuesday’s final round of play.
“The morning round was very solid for us,” commented new Irish head coach Jim Kubinski. “We wanted to be in the top two or three and we were there in third. Tommy (Balderston) had his second straight par-breaker with a 71. I feel he has the talent and the ability to earn All-American status and make it to the next level if he dedicates himself to that goal. He is a long-hitter with a good, solid golf swing and for a big man he has a nice short game.”
Irish junior Mark Baldwin (Laconia, N.H.) (74-76) is two shots behind Isban and in a tie for 19th overall. Fellow junior Eric Deutsch (Rochester, Minn.) struggled during both rounds as he posted scores of 83 and 80 to currently place in a tie for 68th.
“The afternoon was disappointing because we got off to a good start but four of our five guys struggled coming down the stretch,” said Kubinski, who is guiding the Irish in their second tournament since being named head coach back in January. “A bright spot was the play of Greg Rodgers. It was his first start of the spring and he led the team in the afternoon. He was three-over par early and then he played even-par the rest of the way. It’s a sign of great things to come. He could be a star. Another bright spot was Scott Gustafson, who was playing as an individual. He had a team-low 73 in the afternoon.”
The Fighting Irish had five players who were playing as individual entrants in the tournament. Junior Scott Gustafson (Eden Prairie, Minn.) led the charge of those five golfers with a seven-over par 151 (78-73) to reside in a tie at 22nd along with teammates Balderston and Rodgers. Shane Sigsbee (McKinney, Texas), a sophomore, cut five strokes off of his first round total of 79 in the afternoon to place himself in a tie at 34. Mike King (Sidney, Ohio) also improved his score in the afternoon by registering a 78, which followed a 79 in the morning. Senior K.C. Wiseman (South Bend, Ind.) carded a pair of 79’s on the day and Eddie Peckels (Pinehurst, N.C.) carded a five-over par 77 in the first round before finishing with an 83 in the afternoon.
“The mood of the team is still upbeat,” stated Kubinski at the end of day one. “We realize that we played poorly but it’s still early in the season. We can still go out tomorrow and put up a good number and get back in the top-three. We are only seven shots out of third and if we shoot around even-par that should get us in the top-three mix.”
Tuesday’s final round of action gets underway with tee times starting at 7:30 a.m. Results will be posted on the und.com.
Irish Spring Invitational (El Campeon Golf Course – Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., Par 72, 6,901-yards)
Top-6 Team Scores (36-hole totals): 1. Wichita State 573 (288-285), 2. Colorado State 585 (289-296), 3. San Diego State 593 (301-292), 4. Mississippi State 596 (299-297), 5. Penn State 598 (300-298), 6. Notre Dame 600 (293-307).
Top-5 Golfers plus Notre Dame scores (36-hole totals): 1t. Judd Easterling (Wichita State) 141 (67-74), 1t. Andrew Scott (San Diego State) 141 (70-71), 3t. Jesse Schulte (Wichita State) 143 (72-71), 3t. Ty Cline (Wichita State) 143 (74-69), 3t. Tim Aquaviva (Rollins) 143 (71-72).
Notre Dame scores: (scoring team) 12t. Cole Isban 148 (72-76), 19t. Mark Baldwin 150 (74-76), 22t. Tom Balderston 151 (71-80), 22t. Greg Rodgers 151 (76-75), 68t. Eric Deutsch 163 (83-80). (individual entrants) 22t. Scott Gustafson 151 (78-73), 34t. Shane Sigsbee 153 (79-74), 47t. Mike King 157 (79-78), 53t. K.C. Wiseman 158 (79-79), 58. Eddie Peckels 160 (77-83).
— ND –