April 3, 1998
Irish Men Head To Kentucky, Women To Indiana
- Men post victory at Butler Invitational, Weeks takes medalist honors
- Kent makes impact for Irish men, Vernon keeps up pace
- King, Melby nearing end of top-two career in Irish women's golf history
- Klee bouncing back with strong sophomore season
IRISH MEN BRACE FOR CHALLENGE IN KENTUCKY: The streaking Notre Dame men's golf team--on the heels of a championship performance at the Butler Spring Invitational--heads right back to the links this week on Friday, April 3rd (36 holes) and Saturday the 4th (18 holes) to participate in the 13th annual Kentucky/Johnny Owens Invitational, which will feature 20 of the top teams from District 4 ... Notre Dame is riding a string of four straight rounds in the 290s, led by the top-three finishers at the Butler Invitational--senior Bryan Weeks, junior newcomer Willie Kent and sophomore Jeff Connell--plus the team's stroke average leader, sophomore Todd Vernon (74.72).
THE COURSE: The Johnny Owens again will be played at UK's home course, the Kearney Kills Golf Links in Lexington ... the course is a par 72 with yardage set at 6,987 and a slope rating of 128 ... the tees and fairways are Penncross bentgrass while the greens are Pennlinks bentgrass.
THE FIELD: In addition to the host team, the 20-team field for the Johnny Owens Intercollegiate includes four Big Ten squads--Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue--plus seven schools from the Mid-Atlantic Conference: Akron, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Marshall, Miami (OH), Ohio and Toledo ... the other entrants include: Eastern Kentucky, Louisville, Morehead State, Murray State, Wright State, Xavier and Youngstown State.
LAST YEAR: Toledo took home the team title with a scored of 876 while Miami's Maarten Van den Berg captured medalist honors (214) ... Notre Dame took fourth, totaling 891 strokes (294-288-309) to finish just 15 behind Toledo over the 54 holes ... '97 graduate Joel Hepler (69-71-81) and current senior Bryan Weeks (76-70-75) tied for ninth ... other Irish scores included: current sophomore Todd Vernon (77-69-80), '97 graduate Brian Donohoe (75-78-74) and current junior Brad Hardin (74-78-80).
NOTRE DAME WOMEN RETURN TO PLAY AT INDIANA: The Notre Dame women's golf team returns to play for the first time in three weeks, travelling down state to participate in the Indiana University Invitational, to be held April 4-5 ... the teams are scheduled to play 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday ... the Irish women are coming off a ninth-place showing at the 20-team NIU Snowbird Intercollegiate, paced by senior Katie King's fourth-place showing (her third top-five finish of 1997-98).
THE COURSE: The Indiana Invitational again will be played on campus at the IU Golf Course ... the course will measure out to 6,134 yards with a par 74.
THE FIELD: In addition to the host Hoosiers, the 15-team field will include nine other members of the Big Ten Conference: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin ... the tournament's other four teams are: Illinois State, Northern Illinois, Ohio and Southern Illinois.
LAST YEAR: Ohio State captured the title with a two-round score of 623 (the tournament was just 36 holes due to rain), behind medalist Jessica Luciuk (151) ... Notre Dame placed 10th in the 17-team field, with current seniors Katie King (79-82) and Tracy Melby (82-79) earning a share of 16th ... other Irish scores included: current sophomore Beth Cooper (86-84), '97 graduate Marty Anne Hall (99-77) and current senior Kristin Schaner (95-91).
IRISH MEN REPEAT AT BUTLER INVITE, WEEKS MEDALIST (3/29-30): Senior captain Bryan Weeks turned in the first medalist performance of his career while Willie Kent finished second and Jeff Connell tied for third, as the Irish repeated as team champion Monday at the Butler Spring Invitational with impressive back-to-back rounds of 292 at the par-71, 7,041-yard Bear Slide Golf Course in Cicero, Ind. ... Notre Dame built on its nine-shot, first-round lead, outdistancing second-place Morehead State (306-305) by 27 strokes ... the second-round score was all the more impressive due to strong and gusting winds ... Weeks and sophomore Todd Vernon led the Irish amidst the field of 90 golfers with final round 71s and Kent carded a 73 while first round co-leader Connell and Brad Hardin both turned in 77s ... Notre Dame also won at Bear Slide in the spring of '97, with rounds of 295 and 317 highlighted by Weeks' second career runner-up finish (77-74), a third-place showing by '97 graduate Joel Hepler (75-78) and Vernon's sixth-place finish (72-82) ... Weeks shot a 72 in Sunday's opening round before using his best round of 1997-98 to finish with a career-best 143--equaling the third-best 36-hole total by an Irish golfer in the 1990s ... Kent used rounds of 74 and 73 to finish four shots behind Weeks, with Connell (71-77) one shot back ... Vernon (78-71) finished tied for sixth while Hardin (75-77) tied for 10th.
TEAM RESULTS: 1. Notre Dame 292-292/584; 2. Morehead State 306-305/611; 3. Ball State 301-312/613; 4. Oakland University 307-327/620; 5. Robert Morris 308-319/622; 6. Youngstown State 303-319/622; 7. Cincinnati 308-317/625; 8. Butler 303-323/623; 9. Cleveland State 315-311/626; 10. Indianapolis 319-318/637; 11. Southern Indiana 324-327/651; 12. Dayton 325-339/659; 13. Wisconsin-Green Bay 333-326/659; 14. Loyola (Illinois) 329-331/660; 15. Eastern Illinois 332-331/663; 16. IUPUI 330-333.
TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 90): 1. Bryan Weeks, ND, 72-71/143; 2. Willie Kent, ND, 74-73/147; 3. Jeff Connell, ND, 71-77/148; Matt Creech, CSU, 72-76/148; Dave Harris, OAK, 74-74/148; 6. Todd Vernon, ND, 78-71/149; Jamie Broce, BSU, 71-78/149; Kevin Childers, MORE, 75-74/149; 9. Matt Herman, MORE, 73-78/151; 10. Brad Hardin, ND, 75-77/152.
BEAR SLIDE BRINGS OUT THE BEST: The 1998 Butler Spring Invitational team title equals the second-biggest field ever defeated by a Notre Dame tournament championship team, trailing only the 18-team field at last year's Butler Invitational ... the 1978-79 Irish squad won the 16-team Indiana Intercollegiate ... Notre Dame's two rounds at Bear Slide represent the first time during the 1990s that an Irish squad has shot 292 or better in consecutive rounds of a tournament ... the 584 total stands as the best 36-hole team total at Notre Dame in 20 years and fourth-best in team history, since tournaments switched from match play to team totals in 1966 ... Notre Dame's 584 total has been bested just three times in the program's history: 578 at Northern Illinois in 1967-68, 581 at the 1967-68 Notre Dame Invitational and 582 at the 1977-78 Indianapolis Invitational.
WEEKS, KENT FINISH 1-2: Bryan Weeks' medalist finish at the Butler Invitational included three birdies and three bogeys in his final round, an even-par 71 ... Weeks turned in back-to-back birdies on the par-four, 378-yard 9th hole and the par-four, 440-yard 10th ... he chipped in a birdie from the fairway trap on the 10th, a hole which he had double-bogeyed on Sunday and in both rounds of last year's tournament at Bear Slide, a Scottish links-style course ... runner-up Willie Kent turned in six final-round birdies, with six bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-4, 368-yard 17th ... his highlight of the day came on one of his five pars--the par-three, 172-yard 16th--when Kent sent his tee shot on 16 past the green and down a steep grass embankment but was able to chip four feet past the hole before knocking in the putt to save par.
WORTH THE WAIT: Bryan Weeks' medalist finish at the Butler Invite represents the first victory by a Notre Dame golfer in a major intercollegiate tournament since the fall of 1991, when Chris Dayton fired rounds of 69 and 73 to capture medalist honors among a similar 90-golfer field at the Indiana Intercollegiate (held that year at Purdue) ... a Notre Dame golfer has captured medalist honors at the smaller, annual conference tournaments five times in the 1990s (two MCC, three BIG EAST), with the fields ranging from 35-45 golfers in those events ... Weeks finished as runner-up at tournaments during his sophomore and junior seasons, firing rounds of 78-7-3-72 at the Cleveland State Classic in the spring of '96 before turning in rounds of 77-74 at the '97 Butler Spring Invite ... Irish golfers have captured three conference titles in the past four seasons: Brian Donohoe in 1994-95 (73-73-75), Bill Moore in '95-'96 (72-71) and Todd Vernon this season (70-71).
KENT SUPER SO FAR: Junior Willie Kent has made his presence felt for the Irish golf team this spring, after transferring from Saint Louis University ... Kent averaged 74 strokes per round last fall for SLU and has averaged 73.80 strokes through five rounds with the Irish (79-73-70-74-73) ... Kent's first tournament with the Irish--the Golden Ocala Intercollegiate--included his former school, as SLU finished 11th with a 915 ... Kent's younger brother, Alex, turned in rounds of 84-71-74 for the Billikens.
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Senior Bryan Weeks and sophomore Todd Vernon remain on pace for two of the best season and career stroke averages in Notre Dame history ... Vernon has counted to the team score in 17 of 18 rounds this during 1997-98 while averaging 74.72 strokes per round, putting him on pace for the sixth-best season average in recorded team history--just behind Bill Cvengros' 74.64 in 1967-68--and best since John Lundgren's 74.40 in 1979-80 ... Weeks is 14 strokes behind Vernon with a 75.50 average, which would rank eighth in recorded team history and best Joe Dennen's 1990s-best mark (75.90, in 1992-93) ... Weeks' career stroke average now stands at 76.43 over 84 rounds, representing the fourth-best mark in recorded team history (since 1954)--just behind Frank Hund's 76.40 (1958-60)--and best by an Irish golfer since Joseph Grace's 74.56 in 1960-62 ... although Vernon still has two-plus years left in his Irish career, he already has logged 35 rounds while averaging 75.66 strokes, which would trail only Grace and record-holder Charles Thurn (74.43, 1956-58) in the Irish record book.
BREAKING THE 300 BARRIER: Notre Dame's 1997-98 team stroke average continues to improve, with the 584 showing at Bear Slide dropping the average below the 300 mark to 299.67 ... that number factors out to 74.92 per round counted to the team score ... the current 299.67 average would stand as the best mark by an Irish squad, since the count-four format was adopted in 1980 (the 1979-80 team averaged 300.07 strokes).
FEARSOME FIVESOME: Notre Dame has stormed to a 295.20 stroke average through five rounds this spring, behind what possibly is one of the best fivesomes in the program's history: senior Bryan Weeks, junior Brad Hardin, junior newcomer Willie Kent and sophomores Jeff Connell and Todd Vernon ... Kent (73/80), Vernon (74.42) and Weeks (75.50) all are averaging under 76 strokes per round for the Irish during 1997-98 while Connell (76.44) and Hardin (77.11) have turned in clutch rounds throughout the season ... Notre Dame golfers have combined for 17 rounds of par or better during 1997-98, with each of the staring five totaling at least one: Vernon (5, in 4 different tournament), Connell (4), Weeks (3), Hardin (2) and Kent (1) ... Vernon has led the team at three of the seven 1997-98 tournaments while Weeks has been the top finisher twice ... Hardin led the Irish at the Louisville Intercollegiate and Connell led Notre Dame at the Legends of Indiana, in addition to claiming medalist honors in the preseason Campus Championship.
ON PAR FOR GREATNESS: Notre Dame golfers have hit par or better six times this spring, including three even-par 71s at the Butler Invitational: Jeff Connell (1st rounds), Bryan Weeks (2nd) and Todd Vernon (2nd) ... Vernon also shot a one-under 71 two weeks earlier at the Golden Ocala Intercollegiate while newcomer Willie Kent turned in a 70 to equal the best round by an Irish golfer in 1997-98 (Vernon shot an opening-round 70 at the BIG EAST Championship and Connell opened with a 70 at the Legends of Indiana) ... Brad Hardin also turned in an even-par 72 at Golden Ocala ... Connell's 71 last week was the second-best round of his career while Weeks' 71 tied for his third-best career round ... Vernon carded a 69 as a freshman while his impressive 1997-98 has included one 70 and four 71s.
IRISH TAKE 5TH AT OCALA (3/12-14): A career-best effort from sophomore Todd Vernon and some clutch play by Willie Kent led Notre Dame to fifth at the 18-team Golden Ocala Intercollegiate, held at the par-72, 6,735-yard Golden Ocala (Fla.) Golf Club ... Notre Dame finished with a three-over 291 to finish 11 shots behind champion Rollins ... the Irish stood 7th after an opening-round 307 and moved into 6th with a 294 on the second day, paced by Vernon's 71 and a 73 by Kent, a junior playing in his first tournament with the Irish after transferring from Saint Louis University ... Vernon finished seventh in the 108-player field, posting a four-over 220 (76-71-73) ... Kent tied for 14th with a 222 (79-73-70) ... the final-round 291 included a 72 from Brad Hardin and a 76 by Bryan Weeks . .. Jeff Connell counted to the team score in the first (74) and third (76) rounds.
IRISH WOMEN TAKE 8TH AT NIU SNOWBIRD, KING AGAIN LEADS THE WAY (3/12-13): Senior co-captain Katie King continued her stellar play with a fourth-place finish while leading the Notre Dame women to eighth place among a 20-team field at the 12th annual Northern Illinois Snowbird Intercollegiate, held at Pebblecreek Country Club in Tampa, Fla. ... King's six-over 150 landed her just two shots behind co-medalists Tracey Gage (Methodist College) and Shannon Nagy (Florida Southern) in the 119-golfer field ... King shot a first-round 78 before firing even par in the second round, representing the best individual round of the 232 carded in the two-day tournament ... Notre Dame stood in ninth place after an opening-round 326 before posting a 313 to slip past James Madison by seven shots ... the Irish finished just one stroke behind Rollins College and four behind Longwood College ... freshman Mary Klein helped the Irish surge, improving from an opening 83 to card a 76 and finish tied for 21st ... sophomore Andrea Klee continued her solid play, carding matching rounds of 81 ... freshman Becca Schloss also counted to the team score in both rounds (84-84) while senior Tracy Melby turned in an uncharacteristic 87-84 ... freshman Danielle Villarosa had solid rounds of 84-79 while competing as an individual and sophomore Beth Cooper struggled with rounds of 85-86, also as an individual.
TEAM RESULTS: 1. Purdue 307-309/616; 2. Methodist 318-305/623; 3. Florida Southern 316-309/625; 4. Wisconsin 315-311/626; 5. Southern Mississippi 318-313/631; 6. Longwood 321-314/635; 7. Rollins 321-317/638; 8. Notre Dame 326-313/639; 9. James Madison 323-323/646; 10. Illinois 330-318/648; 11. Alabama-Birmingham 331-324/655; 12. Lynn 330-327/657; 13. Toledo 335-341/676; 14. Northern Illinois 348-332/680; 15. Texas A&M University-Commerce 357-355/712; 16. Eastern Michigan 358-359/717; 17. Bowling Green 366-354/720; 19. Creighton 365-356/721; 19. William & Mary 372-373/745; 20. Carthage 405-413/818.
TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 119): 1. Tracey Gage (METH) 75-73/148; Shannon Nagy (FS) 73-75/148; 3. Colleen Cashman (PUR) 73-76/149; 4. Katie King (ND) 78-72/150; 5. Jessica Hayes (ILL) 80-74/154; 6. Marella Canepa (SM) 77-78/155; Patty Fronha (WIS) 79-76/155; Stacey Orschell (PUR) 78-77/155; 9. Angela Blythe (PUR) 78-78/156; Sheri Bobber (WIS) 80-76/156; Johanna Gollings (PUR) 78-78/156; Stavey Smith (METH) 83-73/156.
OTHER ND SCORES: 21. Mary Klein 83-76/159; 39. Andrea Klee 81-81/162; 43. Danielle Villarosa (ind.) 84-79/163; 58. Becca Schloss 84-84/168; 71. Tracy Melby 87-74/171; 71. Beth Cooper (ind.) 85-86/171.
KING, MELBY STILL AT THE TOP: Senior co-captains Katie King and Tracy Melby remain first and second at Notre Dame in career stroke average ... both players have logged 85 career rounds, with King owning the best stroke average (81.68) in Irish history while Melby is 27 shots back ,with an 82.00 average ... Melby has figured in the count-four team score in an Irish-record 74 career rounds followed closely by King (73) ... Melby's 87.1 percent of career rounds counted ranks third in Irish history, behind Kathy Phares (97.1, 66/68, 1990-93) and Allison Wojnas (88.1, 52/59, 1989-92) ... Phares held the previous Irish record for career stroke average (83.11) while Melby's sister Julie held the mark for career rounds counted to the team score (71) ... Phares led the Irish in 17 career tournaments, best at Notre e ahead of King (13), Tracy Melby (11) and Crissy Klein (11, 1991-94).
SOPHOMORE SURGE: Sophomore Andrea Klee has turned in an impressive 1997-98 season, after struggling last year as a freshman ... Klee is the only Irish golfer to count to the team score in all 16 rounds this season while her 80.31 season stroke average would rank third in Irish history, behind senior Katie King's current 79.94 and King's junior average (80.17) ... an Irish player has counted to every round of an entire season just three times previously: Kathy Phares in 1990-91 (20) and 1992-93 (21) and King in 1995-96 (20) ... Klee's seven-over 151 (77-76) at the recent Midwest Classic represented the third-best 36-hole tournament in Irish women's golf history ... she led the Irish with a 10th-place showing at the MSU Invitational (79-80-81) and has posted seven rounds of 80 or better during 1997-98 ... Klee averaged just 91.40 strokes per round as a freshman while counting to the team score in only six of the 20 rounds she played during 1996-97.
DECADE DOMINANCE: Notre Dame's 10th season of women's golf truly has proved to be its most dominant, as the Irish women have fashioned a 320.56 team count-four stroke average that is well ahead of the record set last season (326.71) ... the team's 607 (312-295) at the Midwest Classic shattered the existing team record for 36 holes by 21 strokes while the 943 (302-320-321) at the Kentucky Invitational broke the team 56-hole record by six shots ... the 295 at the Midwest Classic and 302 at Kentucky represent the two best single rounds in Irish women's golf history, with the 312 at the Midwest Classic and the Notre Dame Invitational tying for the first-best rounds in the program's history.
KING OF THE HILL: Senior captain Katie King is putting the finishing touches on her record-setting Notre Dame career ... King holds Irish records for career stroke average (81.68), season stroke average (currently 79.94) and 36-hole tournament score (149 at the recent Midwest Classic) ... she has counted to the team score in 73 of 85 rounds, just one behind classmate Tracy Melby atop the Irish record books ... King has three top-five finishes this season: fifth at the Kentucky Invitational (71-81-75), third at the Midwest Classic (75-74) and fourth at the NIU Snowbird Intercollegiate (78-72) ... she has posted seven career rounds of 75 or lower and 20 of 78 or lower.