Oct. 28, 2008
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Notre Dame freshman Max Scodro (Chicago, Ill./Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.)) closed out his first fall season at the college level in grand style, carding a career-low three-under par 213 (70-72-71) to tie for medalist honors at the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship, which concluded Tuesday at the Forest Oaks Country Club (par 72/7,197 yards) in Greensboro, N.C. Scodro is the first Irish rookie in 18 years to win an individual tournament championship, and just the third in the 80-year history of the Notre Dame men’s golf program. He’s also the first Irish freshman ever to win a 54-hole tournament title (John Lundgren and Brennan Murphy won 18-hole events in 1976 and 1990, respectively).
Scodro is the first Irish medalist of any class since Eddie Peckels tied for top honors at the 36-hole Irish Invitational last spring. Cole Isban was the last Notre Dame golfer to finish atop the leaderboard at a 54-hole tournament, tying for first at the 2005 Shoal Creek Intercollegiate before being eliminated on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
Due to travel considerations on Tuesday, tournament officials at the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship elected to forgo an individual playoff between Scodro and Michigan State’s Payne Gniewek and designated them co-medalists.
As a team, the Irish tied for seventh at their final tournament of the fall 2008 season, firing a 26-over par 890 (297-292-301) to join Eastern Michigan in finishing 21 shots back of tournament champion Duke, but just two strokes out of a top-five placement. The seventh-place tie also matches the best finish of the year for Notre Dame, who shot a season-low 869 en route to their seventh-place outing at last month’s Saint Mary’s Invitational in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Composure and resiliency marked Scodro’s final round on Tuesday, as the Irish freshman looked more like a wily veteran than a first-year player. Starting on the back side of the course, Scodro opened with a birdie, but fell back to even par after bracketing another birdie with bogeys on holes 3 and 5. Yet, the highlight of his round was just around the corner on his sixth hole (No. 15 on the course), when he carded an eagle-3 on the par-5, 552-yard layout, the only eagle of the day on that hole and one of two for the entire tournament.
Scodro then traded another birdie on his eighth hole with a bogey on the ninth, making the turn in two-under 34, before his consistency kicked in with eight consecutive pars. Playing on opposite sides of the course, Scodro and Gniewek (the 36-hole co-leader) waged an impressive duel for the lead down the stretch before Gniewek seemingly blinked with a bogey on No. 17 that dropped him back to three-under par. However, Scodro wasn’t able to capitalize on the miscue, taking a bogey of his own on No. 18 (No. 9 on the course) to end up tied with Gniewek. The other overnight leader, Michigan’s Bill Rankin, had a chance to make it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard, but he also bogeyed his final hole to finish alone in third place, one shot back.
Sophomore Connor Alan-Lee (Solana Beach, Calif./La Jolla Country Day School) capped another solid tournament, tying for 24th place at six-over par 222 (72-74-76). Junior Doug Fortner (Tustin, Calif./Foothill) continued his recovery from a tough first round, rising up to a 43rd-place tie at 11-over par 227 (82-72-73). Junior co-captain Olavo Batista (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Chapel) wound up tied for 54th place in his debut with the Irish travel squad, firing a 15-over par 231 (76-74-81), while freshman Chris Walker (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands), also making his first-ever start for Notre Dame, finished in a 65th-place deadlock at 20-over par 236 (79-76-81).
The Irish will open their 2009 spring season March 9-11 in Humacao, P.R., at the Palmas Del Mar Intercollegiate, hosted by fellow BIG EAST member St. John’s.
— ND —
UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship
Oct. 27-28, 2008
Forest Oaks Country Club (Greensboro, N.C.)
Par 72/7,197 yards
FINAL TEAM RESULTS (54 holes): 1. Duke 869 (291-289-289); 2. Michigan State 873 (293-286-294); 3. Michigan 874 (293-282-299); 4. Louisville 878 (299-284-295); 5. UNC Greensboro 888 (296-291-301); 6. Pepperdine 889 (300-285-304); 7. (tie) NOTRE DAME 890 (297-292-301) and Eastern Michigan 890 (313-280-297); 9. Minnesota 894 (297-294-303); 10. Mississippi State 897 (299-305-293); 11. (tie) Memphis 898 (303-286-309) and Maryland 898 (299-290-309); 13. Toledo 915 (310-298-307); 14. South Alabama 920 (312-299-309).
TOP 6 INDIVIDUALS PLUS NOTRE DAME GOLFERS (of 76): 1. (tie) Max Scodro (ND) 213 (70-72-71) and Payne Gniewek (MichSt) 213 (69-70-74); 3. Bill Rankin (Mich) 214 (75-64-75); 4. (tie) Adam Long (Duke) 216 (73-72-71), Carlos Sainz (MissSt) 216 (70-76-70) and Drew Younts (UNCG) 216 (76-70-70); 24. (tie) Connor Alan-Lee (ND) 222 (72-74-76); 43. (tie) Doug Fortner (ND) 227 (82-72-73); 54. (tie) Olavo Batista (ND) 231 (76-74-81); 65. (tie) Chris Walker (ND) 236 (79-76-81).