Women's Golf

April 15, 1998

Irish Women Heading to Illini Classic

  • Melby set to defend title, Irish women return to play at Illini Spring Classic
  • Klein's fifth-place showing leads women to sixth at IU Invitational
  • Men take 8th at Marshall Invitational, Connell sets 54-hole record (209)
  • NCAA bids still in sight for surging Notre Dame men and women

WOMEN RETURN TO PLAY AT ILLINOIS: The Notre Dame women's golf team-looking to boost its chances for an NCAA Tournament bid-returns from a week off by competing in the Illinois Spring Classic, a 36-hole tournament to be held April 18-19 ... the Irish women are coming off a 6th-place finish at the Indiana Invitational, led by freshman Mary Klein's 5th-place showing.

THE COURSE: The Illinois Spring Classic again will be played at the University of Illinois Orange Course in Savoy, Ill. ... the course is a par-75-with three par-five holes on each nine-and will measure out to 5,840-yards from the women's competition tees.

THE FIELD: In addition to Notre Dame and the host Illini, the 17-team field includes four teams from the Mid-American Conference--Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois and Toledo--plus the following teams: DePauw, Franklin, Grand Valley State, Indianapolis, Lewis, Missouri-Kansas City, Oakland, Tri-State, Truman State, Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Xavier.

LAST YEAR: Illinois (310-316) edged Notre Dame (312-316) by two shots for the title ... current Irish senior Tracy Melby (75-78) captured medalist honors with a seven-over 153 (the course was par 73 last year) in the 73-golfer field ... current senior Katie King (82-78) while current sophomore Beth Cooper (81-79) tied for 13th ... current sophomore Andrea Klee also competed at last year's Illini Classic (78-83) while '97 graduate Marty Anne Hall turned in rounds of 78 and 81.

IRISH MEN BACK ON THE ROAD, AT OSU: The Notre Dame men will play their fourth tournament in 19 days this week, as part of the 29th Ohio State Kepler Intercollegiate (April 18-19), which will include 16 of the Midwest district's top teams ... the Irish men have turned in a strong spring, highlighted by a championship performance at the Butler Spring Invitational and runner-up showing at the Kentucky/Johnny Owens Intercollegiate--heads right back to the links this week for its third tournament in a span of 13 days ... Notre Dame headed into last week's Marshall Invitational ranked 8th in the Golfstat district rankings (the district committee will select six teams and one individual or five teams and six individuals for the NCAAs) ... the Irish have shot 294 or lower in eight of the last 10 rounds and own a 294.73 average in their four spring tournaments.

THE COURSE: The Kepler again will be held at the OSU's par-72, 7,109-yard Scarlet Course.

THE FIELD: In addition to host OSU and Notre Dame, the 16-team field will include nine Big 10 teams-Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin-plus five Mid-American Conference teams: Ball State, Kent, Marshall, Miami (OH) and Toledo.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Kepler was not held last year (OSU instead played host to the Northern Intercollegiate) but the Buckeyes won the 1996 Kepler with a score of 921 ... Notre Dame has played in the OSU spring intercollegiate 23 times previously, including a five-year stretch from 1969-73 and a 17-year run of appearances at OSU from 1974-92 ... the Irish also played in the '93 OSU fall classic before returning to the Kepler in the spring of '95, when current senior Bryan Weeks led the 15th-place Irish with rounds of 80-76-78 (234) to finish tied for 35th among the 115-golfer field ... Notre Dame's top finishes at the Kepler have come in '77 (4th), '75 (8th), '80 (8th) and '89 (8th).

CONNELL TAKES 2ND, IRISH 8TH AT MARSHALL (4/10-11) - Sophomore Jeff Connell shattered the school 54-hole record with a runner-up 209 while the Irish shot a team record 283 in the final round, as Notre Dame rallied to an 8th-place finish at the 29th annual Marshall Invitational ... Connell used five final-round birdies for a one-under 70, after turning in first-day rounds of 70 and 69 at the par-71, 6,446-yard Guyan Golf and Country Club ... Connell's four-under 209 tied with Miami's Kyle Voska for second among the 100-golfer field, a shot behind Michigan's Michael Harris, who bested the previous tournament record of 209 ... Connell's record-setting tournament included 33 pars, 13 birdies, seven bogeys and one double-bogey ... he opened his final round by going three-over on the back nine but then birdied the 1st-3rd holes and the 5th and 7th before bogeying the 9th to finish one shot out of the lead ... Notre Dame's final round of one-under 283 included a 70 from senior captain Bryan Weeks, a 71 by sophomore Todd Vernon and a 72 by junior Willie Kent ... the Irish had the luxury of throwing out a 73 by junior Brad Hardin ... the 20-team field combined for just three rounds over the 54 holes that were better than Notre Dame's 283 ... Weeks finished tied for 19th at 217 (72-75-70), with Vernon checking in at 225 (76-78-71), Kent at 229 (76-81-72) and Hardin at 231 (79-79-73) ... the Irish actually opened the tournament in 8th place, after firing a 294, but fell to 13th with a second-round 301.

FINAL TEAM STANDINGS (54 holes): 1. Ill. 284-292-286/862; 2. OSU 295-292-279/866; 3. Marshall 282-285-286/862; 4. Ind. 291-289-289/869; 5. Minn. 291-290-290/871; 6. N'western 294-294-285/873; 7. Miami (OH) 288-288-298/874; 8. ND 294-301-283/878; 9. Mich. 300-291-288/879; 10. Louisville 305-289-286/880; 11. Ball St. 288-290-305/883; 12. Toledo 308-282-294/884; 13. Akron 291-293-300/884; 14. Ky. 301-296-295/891; 15. MSU 304-294-295/893; 16. Wis. 302-299-293/894; 17. E. Ky. 308-290-300/898; 18. Ohio 300-300-305/905; 19. Murray St. 302-299-306/907; 20. E. Mich. 308-299-303/910.

TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 100): 1. Michael Harris (MICH) 72-67-69/208; 2. Jeff Connell (ND) 70-69-70/209; Kyle Voska (MIA) 65-72-72/209; 4. Ed Parga (ILL) 68-71-73/212; Josh Brewer (IU) 71-69-72/212.

OTHER ND SCORES: 19. Bryan Weeks 72-75-70/217; 60. Todd Vernon 76-78-71/225; 72. Willie Kent 76-81-72/229; 81. Brad Hardin 79-79-83/231.

MARSHALL INVITE NOTES: Notre Dame's final-round 283 (-1) equaled the team record for low round, matching the 283 (+3) posted by the 1967-68 team in a match at Northern Illinois ... Notre Dame's one-under round at Marshall is the program's second-best in relation to par, trailing only a four-under 284 by the 1994-95 team at the Legends of Indiana ... sophomore Jeff Connell's four-under 209 marked the first time a Notre Dame golfer has finished under par during a 54-hole tournament, since competition switched over from match play in 1963 ... the previous Irish record for a three-round tournament was an even-par 216 by Brian Donohoe at the 1996-97 Legends of Indiana ... Connell also owns the third-best 54-hole score in the Irish record book, a one-over 217 at last fall's Legends of Indiana ... Notre Dame's 878 (+26) total at Marshall trails only the 873 (+9) at last fall's Legends of Indiana among top Irish 54-hole scores.

IRISH EYE NCAAS: Notre Dame surged to 8th in the Midwest District heading into the Marshall Invitational, after claiming the Butler Invitational title and a 2nd-place showing at the Johnny Owens ... the district committee will select either six teams and one individual or five teams and six individuals to represent the Midwest at the NCAA Central Regional (May 14-16 at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas) ... selection is based on several criteria in addition to district ranking, including: head-to-head results, stroke differential, won-loss record, strength of schedule, common opponents, stroke average, tournament place finishes, and spring results as compared to fall ... the Irish have competed vs. 39 of the other 42 district teams during 1997-98 and own a head-to-head advantage on 25 of them ... seven of Notre Dame's head-to-head series are tied, with the Irish owning stroke differentials in five of them: Marshall (+14), Northern Illinois (+29), Cincinnati (+40), Bowling Green (+48) and Eastern Michigan (+49) ... Notre Dame is tied head-to-head with Kentucky (-19) and Wisconsin (-9) but trails those teams in stroke differential ... the Irish trail only seven district teams based on head-to-head meetings: Northwestern (0-1, -5), Minnesota (0-1, -7), Ohio State (0-1, -12), Indiana (1-2, -25), Miami (1-3, -40), Kent (0-1, -41) and Illinois (0-4, -49) ... Notre Dame will face each of those teams this week at OSU.

KENT FAIRLY 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 74.18 strokes through eight rounds with the Irish (79-73-70, 74-73, 72-71-71 and 76-81-72) ... Kent's 218 at Kearney Hill--where he finished fourth--equals the fifth-best 54-hole score in Irish history, since tournament play began in 1963 ... he has shot par or better in three of his rounds the spring while firing a 147 to take runner-up honors at the gusty Butler Invitational ... 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 Irish history ... Vernon has counted to the team score in 22 of 24 rounds while averaging 75.51 strokes per round, putting him on pace for the 6th-best season avg. in recorded team history and best since John Lundgren's 74.40 in '79-'80 ... Weeks also has counted in 22 rounds and is eight strokes behind Vernon with a 75.04 avg., which would rank 7th in recorded team history ... Weeks' career stroke average now stands at 76.13 over 90 rounds, representing the 4th-best mark in recorded team history (since 1954) and best by an Irish golfer since Joseph Grace's 74.56 in '60-'62 ... Weeks has shot 75 or lower in seven of his last eight rounds and in 40 of 90 career rounds (he has counted to the team score in 79 career rounds) ... although Vernon still has two-plus years left in his career, he has logged 41 rounds while averaging 75.51 strokes, which would trail only Charles Thurn (74.43, '56-'58) in the Irish record book ... Vernon-who has counted in 37 of 41 career rounds-has shot par or lower seven times in 1997-98 while Weeks also has done so seven times in '97-'98, including four of his past eight rounds.

BREAKING THE 300 BARRIER: Notre Dame's team stroke average continues to improve, with the 878 total at the Marshall Invite dropping the avg. to 296.25 ... that number factors out to 74.06 per round counted to the team score ... the current 296.25 average would stand as the best mark by an Irish squad, since the count-four format was adopted in 1980 (the 1979-80 team holds the existing record of 300.07 strokes).

FEARSOME FIVESOME: Notre Dame has stormed to a 294.73 stroke average through 11 rounds this spring, behind one of the best fivesomes in the program's history: senior Bryan Weeks, juniors Brad Hardin and junior Willie Kent and sophomores Jeff Connell and Todd Vernon ... just six strokes separate the top-four golfers this spring-Connell (814, 74.00), Kent (816, 74.18), Vernon (817, 74.27) and Weeks (820, 74.55)-while Hardin is averaging a respectable 75.82 strokes per round this spring ... Notre Dame golfers have combined for 26 rounds of par or better during 1997-98, with each of the staring five totaling at least one: Vernon (7, in 6 different tournaments), Connell (7), Weeks (5), Kent (3) and Hardin (2) ... 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 while Connell-who has counted to the team sore in 26 of 30 career rounds-led Notre Dame at the fall Legends of Indiana and last week's Marshall Invitational, in addition to claiming medalist honors in the preseason Campus Championship ... Kent joined the club as a top finisher, tying for fourth at the recent Johnny Owens Intercollegiate ... Hardin's top finish of 1997-98 was 10th at the Butler Invitational ... like each of his fellow starters, Hardin owns a recent top-two finish, after taking runner-up honors at the 1996-97 BIG EAST Championship.

ON PAR FOR GREATNESS: Notre Dame golfers have hit par or better 15 times this spring in 11 rounds, including three even-par 71s at the Butler Invitational--Jeff Connell (1st round), Bryan Weeks (2nd) and Todd Vernon (2nd)--and Connell's record-setting showing at the Marshall Invitational (70-69-70) ... Vernon also this spring has shot a one-under 71 at the Golden Ocala Intercollegiate, an even-par 72 at the Johnny Owens and an even-par 71 at the Marshall Invite ... Willie Kent turned in a 70 at Ocala to equal the second-best round by an Irish golfer in 1997-98 (Vernon shot an opening-round 70 last fall the BIG EAST Championship while Connell opened with a 70 the next week at the Legends of Indiana) ... Kent then added rounds of 72 and 71 at the Johnny Owens ... Brad Hardin also turned in an even-par 72 at Golden Ocala while Weeks recently broke even at the Johnny Owens (72) before equaling his career low round last week at Guyan (70) ... Connell's 71 at the recent Butler Invitational ranks as the third-best round of his career while Weeks' 71 at Bear Slide tied for his fourth-best career round ... Vernon carded a 69 as a freshman while his impressive 1997-98 has included one 70, five 71s and one 72.

MELBY GUNS FOR RARE REPEAT AT ILLINI CLASSIC: Senior co-captain Tracy Melby this week will be defending her individual title at the Illini Spring Classic, after turning in a seven-over 153 (75-78) at last year's event ... Melby is one of five Irish women's golfers to have captured medalist honors during the program's 10-year history and owns the distinction of defeating the largest field (73) of any of those medalists ... Kathy Phares won the 43-golfer Indianapolis Invitational in the fall of 1989, firing a one-round score of 73, while Cappy Mack won a small 25-golfer tournament at the Franklin Invitational three weeks later, carding an 81 ... Crissy Klein-the sister of current Irish freshman Mary Klein-won the Bradley Invitational (field unavailable) in the spring of 1992 with rounds of 83 and 78 ... Alicia Murray is the final Irish women's medalist, firing rounds of 78 and 77 to finish atop a 44-golfer field at the Ferris State Invitational in the fall of 1993 ... Irish women's golfers have posted five runner-up finishes, including current senior Katie King's 229 (76-81-72) at the Illinois State Classic in the fall of 1996.

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 88 career rounds, with King owning the best stroke average (81.63) in Irish history while Melby-who will defend her individual title at this week's Illini Classic-is 36 shots back, with an 82.03 average ... Melby and King both have figured in the count-four team score in an Irish-record 76 career rounds followed (73) ... Melby and King's 86.5 percent of career rounds counted rank are tied for 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 prior mark for career rounds counted to the team score (71) ... Phares led the Irish in 17 career tournaments, best at Notre 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 19 rounds this season while her 80.53 season stroke average would rank third in Irish history, behind senior Katie King's current 79.95 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 eight 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 proven to be its most dominant, as the Irish women have fashioned a 320.11 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 54-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 fifth-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 (81.63), season stroke average (currently 79.95) and 36-hole tournament score (149 at the recent Midwest Classic) ... she has counted to the team score in 76 of 88 rounds, tying 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 29 rounds of 78 or lower ... King has shot 80 or lower in 11 of 19 rounds this season, including seven of the last eight.

KLEIN TAKES 5TH, IRISH WOMEN 6TH AT IU (4/4-5): Notre Dame freshman Mary Klein--a native of nearby Kokomo--tied for fifth while leading the Irish women to sixth place at the 15-team Indiana Invitational, held at the par-74, 6,134-yard IU Golf Course ... Klein shared the lead with an opening three-under 71 and added an 80 in the afternoon to forge a tie for second ... she shot 79 the next day for a 230 total--the fifth-best 54-hole score in the 10 years of Irish women's golf, besting the 232 posted by Klein's sister Crissy at the 1991-92 OSU Invitational ... Klein's first-round 71 equals the best round in Irish women's golf history (senior Katie King fired a one-under 71 at last fall's Kentucky Invitational) ... Notre Dame entered the final round tied with Wisconsin for fourth at 636 (314-322) but Minnesota vaulted past the Irish and Badgers while Wisconsin edged Notre Dame by a stroke, 316-317 ... King (78-83-79) tied for 23rd at 240 ... sophomore Andrea Klee (84-81-80) counted in all three rounds while senior co-captain Tracy Melby bounced back from opening rounds of 81 and 89 with a 79 ... sophomore Beth Cooper followed up a solid first two rounds (84-78) with a final-round 94 ...Notre Dame entered the IU Invitational ranked 11th in the district ... a selection committee will pick four teams and one individual or three teams and six individuals to represent the district at the NCAA East Regional, to be held May 7-9 at Duke Golf Club in Durham, N.C. ... five golfers have led the Irish women at tournaments during '97-'98: King (campus championship, Kentucky Invite, Midwest Classic, NIU Snowbird Invite), Klee (MSU Invite), Melby (MSU Invite, Michigan Invite), Becca Schloss (ND Invite in Naples, Fla.) and Klein (IU Invite) ...

TEAM RESULTS (54 holes): 1. Indiana 299-306-301/906; 2. Ohio State 311-311-313/935; 3. Purdue 308-320-311/939; 4. Minnesota 315-324-307/946; 5. Wisconsin 320-316-316/952; 6. Notre Dame 314-322-317/953; 7. Northwestern 322-316-324/962; 8. Michigan State 327-318-326/971; 9. Iowa 325-325-324/974; 10. Michigan 331-330-320/981; 11. Southern Illinois 337-320-330/987; 12. Illinois 334-336-325/995; 13. Illinois State 331-331-334/996; 14. Ohio 347-335-330/1012; 15. Northern Illinois 340-346-345/1031.

TOP INDIVIDUALS (of 83): 1. Jennifer Seger (IU) 71-80-70/221; 2. Erin Carney (IU) 77-74-75/226; Stacey Orschell (PUR) 71-81-74/226; 4. Michelle Hatfield (IU) 75-75-79/229; 5. Mary Klein (ND) 71-80-79/230; Natalie Mosher (OSU) 79-75-76/230.

OTHER NOTRE DAME SCORES: 23. Katie King 78-83-79/240; 39. Andrea Klee 84-81-80/245; Tracy Melby 81-89-79/249; Beth Cooper 84-78-94/256.

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