September 13, 1998
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The Notre Dame men's golf team slipped to a seventh-place finish Sunday in final-round action at the 23-team Falcon/Cross Creek Invitational, held at the par-72, 7,301-yard Eisenhower Blue Course.
Notre Dame stood in third place after Friday's opening-round 287 and held down fourth place after shooting a 290 on Saturday before a final-round 303 in Sunday's action, for an 880 total that tied with Colorado. The #22-ranked University of California wrapped up the team title (278-285-298/852), winning by six strokes over surging Illinois, which used an impressive final-round 275 to vault past the Irish from fifth to second.
Nebraska (291-285-283/859) and Boise State (285-290-290/865) maintained their lead on the Irish while host Air Force (300-286-290/865) and New Mexico (294-294-291/879) used solid rounds to jump past the Irish, with UNM edging Notre Dame by a single stroke.
The 880 team total (+16) represents the fourth-best 54-hole score in Notre Dame history, coming up seven shots shy of equaling the record (873) set at last year's Legends of Indiana tournament. The Irish improved 16 strokes from their score at the 1997 Falcon Invitational, when Notre Dame tied for 12th out of 23 teams.
Junior Jeff Connell (La Crosse, Wis.) led the Irish be finishing tied for 26th with a 219 total (71-73-75). Senior co-captain Brad Hardin (Martinsville, Ind.)--who last week defeated Connell on the first playoff hole to win the campus championship-finished a shot back, tied for 31st after rounds of 71-72-77. The four-over 220 total is a career-best for Hardin, whose previous best was a 223 at the Kentucky Intercollegiate in the spring of 1998.
Like each of his teammates, senior Willie Kent (Asuncion, Paraguay) fired his worst round of the tournament Sunday while finishing with a share of 35th at 221 (72-73-76). Junior co-captain Todd Vernon (Englewood, Colo.) also finished with a 221 total in his home state, after rounds of 74-72-75.
Freshman Kyle Monfort (Dublin, Ohio) completed a solid debut tournament with a round of 78, giving him a total of nine-over 225.
Vernon sliced his career average from 75.39 to 75.28, over 47 rounds, and remains third on the Irish career list (since 1954). Connell used his strong showing to move past former teammate Bryan Weeks into fourth on that list, dropping his career average over 36 rounds from 76.27 to 76.00.
Hardin's career-best effort dropped his career average from 77.46 to 77.24 (over 58 rounds) while Kent has now averaged an even 74.00 strokes over 17 rounds with the Irish, since transferring from Saint Louis University prior to the 1998 spring semester.
TEAM STANDINGS (36 holes of 54): 1. California 278-285-298/852; 2. Illinois 294-289/583 294-289-275/858; 3. Nebraska 291-285-283/859; 4. Boise State 285-290-290/865; 5. Air Force 300-286-290/865; 6. New Mexico 294-294-291/879; 7. Notre Dame 287-290-303/880; Colorado 297-292-291/880; 9. Texas Wesleyan 292-301-293/886; 10. Georgia Southern 301-296-294/890; 11. Wichita State 305-290-296/891; Wyoming 293-302-291/891; 13. New Mexico State 299-297-296/892; Utah 295-299-298/892; 15. San Diego 298-305-294/897; 16. Xavier 301-299-299/899; Tulane 302-296-301/899; 18. Weber State 299-295-306/900; 19. Air Force (JV) 310-297-303/910; Eastern Washington 305-306-299/911; Missouri 314-292-304/910; Grand Canyon 309-302-299/910; 23. Idaho State 305-300-306/911; 24. Southern Utah 310-304-298/912.
TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 115): 1. Steve Friesen (NEB) 71-67-71/209; 2. Han Lee (CAL) 70-72-69/211; 3. Patrick Hawkins (USD) 70-74-69/213; Dong Yi (CAL) 68-70-75/213; 5. Dan Coyle (CAL) 71-69-74/214; Luke Sestero (BOISE) 70-70-74/214; Jason Jensen (AFA) 74-71-69/214; Josh Madden (NEB) 73-74-67/214; 9. Kurt Ekjord (COL) 72-71-72/215; Mark Henderson (ILL) 73-72-70/215; Larry Nuger (ILL) 76-70-69.
NOTRE DAME SCORES: 26. Jeff Connell 71-73-75/219; 31. Brad Hardin 71-72-77/220; 35. Willie Kent 72-73-76/221; 35. Todd Vernon 74-72-75/221; 61. Kyle Monfort 73-74-78/225.