April 16, 2003
Notre Dame, Ind. – Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course will be the site of the 2003 BIG EAST Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships on Monday and Tuesday, April 21-22. The 54-hole tournament will feature 36 holes of golf on April 21 followed by 18 holes on April 22nd. Play each day will begin at 8:00 a.m. Admission to the tournament is free and open to the public.
This marks the fourth time in the tournament’s 24-year history that the Irish have hosted the BIG EAST Championship with the Warren Golf Course being the site in 2000 and 2003 and the Blackthorn Golf Club hosting in 1997.
Six men’s teams and four women’s teams will compete for the BIG EAST crown with the men’s winner getting an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The women are not eligible for two seasons for an automatic bid since this is the first season of conference play.
The Notre Dame men and women’s teams are both second seeds in the tournament. On the men’s side, Virginia Tech is the two-time defending champion and the top seed again this season. Following the Irish are Georgetown, St. John’s, Rutgers and Seton Hall.
On the women’s side, the Miami Hurricanes are the top-seeded team followed by Notre Dame, Georgetown and Boston College.
The Notre Dame men were second at the tournament last season, finishing 17 strokes behind Virginia Tech, and have won the title three times (1995, 1996 and 1997).
Both Notre Dame men and women’s teams will feature several freshmen that have had outstanding seasons in their first year of collegiate play.
The men are led by four freshmen among the team’s top five scorers and are separated by just .79 strokes. Scott Gustafson (Fr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) leads the men with a 75.17 average. He is followed by senior Brandon Lunke (San Antonio, Texas) with a 75.61. Mark Baldwin (Laconia, N.H.), Eric Deutsch (Rochester, Minn.) and Tommy Balderston (Boca Raton, Fla.) follow with 75.65, 75.92 and 75.96 respectively.
The Notre Dame women have had a strong year winning the Notre Dame Invitational (at the Warren Golf Course) in the fall and finishing third at the Snowbird Invitational in Tampa, Fla., in March. Their top three scoring averages also belong to freshmen. Katie Brophy (Spokane, Wash.) is the team leader with a 78.65 average. She was the individual medalist at the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational in March. Sarah Bassett (Spokane, Wash.) follows her with a 79.29 average and Lauren Gebauer (Columbus, Ohio) is third with an 80.55. Junior Shannon Byrne (Arlington Heights, Ill.), who has played in every tournament of her Notre Dame career, has an 80.84 mark among the top four Irish golfers.
The Irish teams are scheduled to tee off at 8:50 a.m. with the men starting on the first tee and the women the second tee. The second round of play on Monday is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. with both Notre Dame teams starting at 1:50 p.m. Final round tee times will be set based on team finishes on Monday.