September 12, 1998
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Notre Dame men's golf team began its quest for the program's first trip to the NCAAs since 1966 in strong fashion Friday, posting a team record-tying round of one-under 287 to claim third place after the first of three rounds at the Falcon/Cross Creek Invitational, held at the par-72, 7,301-yard Eisenhower Blue Golf Course.
The University of California, ranked No. 22 in the national Collegiate Golf Federation preseason rankings, leads after 18 holes with a 278 total while Boise State is in second place, just two shots ahead of the Irish at 287. The tournament continues with 18 holes on Saturday before concluding with a final round on Sunday.
Notre Dame received a balanced effort in the play-five/count-four format, with each Irish golfer shooting between 71-74. Senior co-captain Brad Hardin (Martinsville, Ind.) and junior Jeff Connell (La Crosse, Wis) are among 10 golfers who are tied for ninth at one-under 71 while senior Willie Kent (Asuncion, Paraguay) rallied with a 33 over his final nine holes for an even-par 72.
Freshman Kyle Monfort (Dublin, Ohio) turned in an impressive 73 in the first round of his college career to round out the record-tying round. The Irish had the luxury of throwing out a 74 from junior co-captain Todd Vernon (Englewood, Colo.), the team's stroke-average leader in 1997-98 (74.59).
The one-under 287 equals the lowest round to par in recorded team history (since 1966), with the 1997-98 squad firing a one-under 283 in the third round of the Marshall Invitational last spring. The Irish need to shoot 585 over the final two rounds (+9) to post the best 54-hole score in team history, besting the nine-over 873 at last year's Legends of Indiana tournament.
Hardin and Connell-who tied for last week's campus championship at 292, before Hardin won o n the first playoff hole--stand just a shot out of fourth place and three shots behind leader Doug Yi of California (68). Boise State's John Warner and Cal's Josh Levin are tied for second after firing first round 69s.
TEAM STANDINGS (18 holes of 54): 1. California 278; 2. Boise State 285; 3. Notre Dame 287; 4. Nebraska 291; 5. Texas Wesleyan 292; 6. Illinois 294; New Mexico 294; 8. Utah 295; 9. Colorado 297; 10. Wyoming 298; San Diego 298; 12. Weber State 299; New Mexico State 299; 14. Air Force 300; 15. Georgia Southern 301; Xavier 301; 17. Tulane 302; 18. Eastern Washington 305; Idaho State 305; Wichita State 305; 21. Grand Canyon 309; 22. Southern Utah 310; Air Force (JV) 310; 24. Missouri 314.
TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 120): 1. Doug Yi (CAL) 33-35/68; 2. John Warner (BOISE) 33-36/69; Josh Levin (CAL) 33-36/69; 4. Luke Sestero (BOISE) 33-37/70; Patrick Hawkins (USD) 36-34/70; Paul Baack (UNM) 35-35/70; Han Lee (CAL) 36-34/70; Tim McMillan (TXWES) 33-37/70.
NOTRE DAME SCORES: 9. Brad Hardin 37-34/71; Jeff Connell 35-36/71; 19. Willie Kent 39-33/72; 24. Kyle Monfort 35-38/73; 39. Todd Vernon 35-39/74.