Oct. 6, 1998
FRANKLIN, Ind. - Notre Dame freshman Kyle Monfort (Dublin, Ohio) three-putted for a bogey on his first hole Tuesday but added five birdies and 12 pars the rest of the way to post the best round by a Notre Dame golfer in 20 years-four-under 68-in gusty final-round action of the annual Legends of Indiana Intercollegiate, held at the par-72, 7,029-yard Legends of Indiana Golf Course.
Monfort's strong round-which equals the second-best in recorded Notre Dame history-helped the inconsistent Irish jump from 14th to eighth in the 18-team field, using a final-round 298 in the play-five/count-four format to finish with a three-round total of 893. The Irish conceivably could have made a run at third-place Indiana (886) but failed to get the needed scores from the squad's veteran players. Ball State nipped Notre Dame by a single stroke while Louisville and Penn State finished just three shots higher than the Irish and Kentucky five shots higher. Toledo (849) had four golfers in the top six to run away with the team title by 25 strokes.
Monfort's 68 tied with Arkon's Scott Carvin (first round) for best in the tournament and vaulted him from 36th to a share of 10th in the 90-golfer field, with the 217 total equaling the fourth-best 54-hole score in recorded Notre Dame history. Junior Jeff Connell tied for 26th at 223 (75-71-77) while senior Willie Kent-coming off a medalist finish at the Iowa Intercollegiate-tied for 48th at 229 (75-77-77). Irish senior co-captain Brad Hardin bounced back from a second-round 80 on Monday afternoon to post a final-round 76 and 230 total. Junior co-captain Todd Vernon continued to struggle, firing a 79 on Tuesday after opening with a 78 and 74 on Monday.
The last known Notre Dame golfers to record a round of 68 or better in an intercollegiate tournament were teammates Dave Knee and Tim Saurs, who did so during the 1977-78 season. Mike O'Connell, Sr. also carded a 68 in 1964-65 and owns the best round in recorded team history, a 64 in 1962-63. Prior to Monfort's 68, the best round by an Irish golfer during the last 20 years was 69-turned in nine times by eight different golfers, including Kent twice and Connell and Vernon once each.
Monfort-whose 1998 summer highlights included shooting a nine-birdie, course-record round of 63 at his home course Muirfield Country Club-needed just 27 putts Tuesday while hitting 18 fairways and eight of nine greens over the final nine holes, which were played on the "Middle Nine" of the 27-hole course. He opened the day by three-putting the 1st hole on the Creek Nine but broke back even with a tap-in birdie on the par-5, 562-yard 3rd hole. While facing three-club with during the 5th-8th holes, Monfort dropped a two-iron tee shot to within 12 feet of the 192-yard 6th hole hole and sunk the putt to go one-under.
Monfort's final nine holes included three birdies and three near-misses. He hit driver and two-iron on the 418-yard 1st hole of the Middle Nine before draining a 20-footer. After missing a short putt on the 2nd hole and lipping out on birdie putts at 3 and 4, he sank birdies putts from 10 and eight feet on the next two holes to move to four-under. His only missed green of the Middle Nine came on the 8th hole, when the wind carried his second shot over the small green. But Monfort chipped to within six feet short of the hole, made his par and then two-putted from 20 feet on the final hole to complete the memorable round.
An impressive rookie season for Monfort has included rounds of 73-84-78/225 at the Air Force Invitational (he had a quadruple bogy on the last hole) and 76-75-74 at the Iowa Intercollegiate. Monfort's team-leading performance extends what has been a balanced effort by the Irish this season. Hardin and Connell shared for medalist honors at the Campus Championship before Connell paced the Irish at the Air Force Invitational (219) and Kent shot his team-best 216 at the Iowa Intercollegiate.
Just 15 strokes separate the five Irish golfers over nine tournament rounds, with Kent (74.00, 666 strokes) holding a one-stroke lead on Monfort (74.11). Connell and Hardin both carry a 74.89 stroke average while Vernon is averaging 75.78 (more than a stroke higher than his team-best 74.59 in 1997-98). Kent has counted to the team score in all nine rounds while Connell and Hardin have counted in eight each, Monfort in seven and Vernon in just five of the nine (he counted in 25 of 27 as a junior).
KYLE MONFORT: "I putted a lot better today. I needed 34 and 36 putts on Monday but only 27 today. I was placing the ball closer to the hole and made some adjustment in my putting stance. Going into the final three holes, I felt like I could make three more birdies. It's nice to have done well but we are struggling a little as a team. We have five really good players who can put up low scores. It just hasn't clicked yet. We could go out next week at Louisville and everyone could shoot under par. We're a really good team but just haven't been able to show it. ...
It's been hard making the transition to college golf. There's a lot more practice and travel, combined with the schoolwork, and playing 36 holes in one day is really hard. ... Usually, I'm not a good player in the wind. I'm not used to it from where I'm from. But we've played in a lot of wind this season-it was real windy at Iowa-and that definitely prepared me. I was hitting my long irons great, so I could attack the pin with two and three-irons."
FINAL TEAM RESULTS (54 holes): 1. Toledo 278-279-292/849; 2. Illinois 285-296-293/874; 3. Indiana 295-290-301/886; 4. Kentucky 303-286-299/888; 5. Louisville 298-294-298/890; Penn State 293-296-301/890; 7. Ball State 293-298-301/892; 8. Notre Dame 298-297-298/893; 9. Marshall 293-299-302/894; 10. Iowa 291-300-304/895; 11. Wisconsin 290-292-314/896; 12. Eastern Kentucky 297-297-303; 14. Akron 289-294-318/901; 15. Michigan 297-300-313/910; 16. Western Kentucky 309-295-307/911; 17. Xavier 307-301-313/921; 18. Ohio 300-311-312/923.
TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 90): 1. Tim Rice (TOL) 69-69-72/210; D.A. Points (ILL) 69-71-70/210; 3. Jamie Broce (BSU) 69-73-69/211; 4. Ashley Wilt (TOL) 69-73-70/212; 5. Jeremy Langley (KY) 73-70-70-/213; 6. Chuck Radabaugh (TOL) 71-69-75/215; Richard Elliott (TOL) 69-71-75/215; Brent Landry (IND) 71-71-73/215; 9. Brad Faulkner (LOU) 73-71-72/216; 10. Kyle Monfort (ND) 74-75-68/217; Jason Wombacher (IOWA) 72-73-752/17; John Carlson (WIS) 72-70-75/217; Ed Mainder (EMU) 72-70-75/217. OTHER NOTRE DAME SCORES: 26. Jeff Connell 75-71-77/223; 48. Willie Kent 75-77-77/229; 56. Brad Hardin 74-80-76/230; 60. Todd Vernon 78-74-79/231.