Oct. 20, 1998
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Notre Dame men's golf team failed to hold its eight-shot lead, slipping behind champion Illinois following second and final-round action of the University of Louisville Intercollegiate, in action Tuesday at the par-72, 6,850-yard Persimmon Ridge Golf Course.
Notre Dame opened play on Monday with an even-par 288 in the play-five/count four format put stumbled to a second-round 321 in Tuesday's round. Regional rival Illinois used rounds of 296 and 305 to jump past the Irish and claim the championship of the 20-team event. Notre Dame barely held on to second place, edging Xavier (305-304) by one stroke and host Louisville (311-300) by two shots.
Irish senior captain Brad Hardin (Martinsville, Ind.) continued the best fall season of his four years with the Irish while posting the best finish of his career in a non-conference tournament, tying with Xavier's Michael Ries for second place among the 104-player field after rounds of 71-77/148. D.A. Points of Illinois won the individual title by two strokes, after rounds of 74 and 72.
Notre Dame freshman Kyle Monfort (Dublin, Ohio) headed into the final round with the individual lead, after an opening-round 70, but stumbled into a share of 14th after a second-round 83 that was thrown out of the team score. Junior Jeff Connell (La Crosse, Wis.) joined Monfort as one of seven golfers tied for 14th at 153, after also taking a tumble from his fourth-place, opening-round 72 by firing a second-round 81.
Junior co-captain Todd Vernon (Englewood, Colo.) tied for 40th after firing a second-round 82 for a 157 total while senior Willie Kent (Asuncion, Paraguay) suffered through his worst back-to-back scores in 25 rounds with the Irish, adding an 81 (equaling his career -high round) to his opening 80 to finish tied for 65th at 161.
Four different Irish players have led the team at tournament's during the fall, with Connell tying for 26th at the 115-golfer Air Force Intercollegiate (219), Kent sharing medalist honors at the 66-player Iowa Intercollegiate (216) and Monfort tying for 10th after a final-round 68 a the 90-golfer Legends of Indiana Intercollegiate (217). Those three golfers and Hardin all stand within seven shots of one another over the course of the 11 fall rounds.
Notre Dame is off this weekend before heading to Bethesda, Md. for the BIG EAST Championship, to be held at the TPC Avenel Course on Oct. 31-Nov. 1. The Irish have captured the past three BIG EAST titles since Notre Dame joined the conference in 1995-86, including narrow one-stoke victories at TPC Avenel during the first two years. The 1997-98 championship was held at Notre Dame's home course, Blackthorn Golf Club, with the Irish winning by a comfortable 32-stroke margin. Vernon captured BIG EAST medalist honors a year ago (70-71) while Hardin was the 1996-97 BIG EAST runner-up (70-74).
Monfort now leads the Irish in fall stroke average, at 74.55 through four tournaments (11 rounds, 820 strokes). Hardin is second on the squad with 82 total strokes and an impressive 74.73 fall average, nearly three shots below his career average of 77.46 prior to the 1998-99 season.
Kent and Connell are tied for third on the team with a 75.18 fall average (827 strokes) while Vernon's recent frustrations have yielded 839 strokes and a 76.26 average, nearly two strokes higher than his team-leading 74.59 mark during 1997-98. Kent, Connell and Hardin each have counted to the team score in 10 of 11 rounds this fall, followed by Monfort (eight) and Vernon (six).
Kent's career average now stands at 74.56 in 25 career rounds with the Irish, followed by Vernon (75.46) and Connell (76.00). Hardin's strong fall has sliced his career average from 77.46 to an even 77.00. Kent has counted to the Irish team score in 23 of his 25 rounds since transferring from Saint Louis University prior to the 1998 spring semester. Vernon has counted in 47 of his 55 career rounds, Connell in 39 of 44 and Hardin in 49 of 66.
As a team, Notre Dame is averaging 297.09 strokes per four-player score, which remains on pace to best the team record of 298.33 set in 1997-98. The average Irish score counted to the team total this fall has been 74.27.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS (36 holes): 1. Illinois 296-305/601; 2. Notre Dame 288-321/609; 3. Xavier 306-304/610; 4. Louisville 311-300/611; 5. Eastern Michigan 313-305/618; 6. Kentucky 313-307/620; 7. Cincinnati 313-308/621; 8. Akron 321-303/624; Marquette 314-310/624; 10. Marshall 304-321/625; 11. Morehead State 319-310/629; 12. Ball State 310-323/633; 13. Western Kentucky 318-316/634; 14. Ohio 307-329/636; 15. DePaul 319-321/640; 16. Murray State 331-310/641; 17. Eastern Kentucky 318-324/645; 18. Wright State 318-331/649; Youngstown State 315-334/649; 20. Saint Louis 333-317/650.
TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 104): 1. D.A. Points (ILL) 74-72/146; 2. Brad Hardin (ND) 71-77/148; Michael Ries (XAV) 76-72/148; 4. Larry Nuger (ILL) 71-78/149; 5. Jeremy Langley (KY) 75-75/150; 6. Brad Faulkner (LOU) 82-69/151; Eric Mason (WKY) 76-75/151; Brian Wilkins (MAR) 74-77/151; Ed Parga (ILL) 75-76/151; Brad Wilder (CIN) 74-77/151; Mike Johnston (MARQ) 74-77/151.
OTHER NOTRE DAME SCORES: 14. Kyle Monfort 70-83/153; Jeff Connell 72-81/153; 40. Todd Vernon 75-82/157; 65. Willie Kent 80-81/161.