April 19, 1998
URBANA, Ill. - The Notre Dame women's golf team finished in a first-place tie with the host team Sunday at the 16-team Illini Spring Classic while Irish senior co-captain Tracy Melby came up just short in her bid to repeat as the tournament medalist, finishing a shot behind Toledo's Jessica Popiel following Sunday's final-round action at the University of Illinois Orange Course.
Notre Dame had held a five-stroke lead on the Illini after firing a round of 303 on Saturday in the play-five/count-four format. But Illinois--who edged the Irish by two strokes for the title of the '97 Illini Spring Classic--stormed to a final-round 327 while the Irish slipped to a 332, forging a tie for the team title at 635.
Melby--who won last year's event with a seven-over 153 (the course was then a par 73)--held a two-shot lead on Popiel after an opening-round 71 on the par-75, 5-840-yard Orange Course. But Melby slipped to an 81 while Popiel turned in a 78 to slip into first place among the 92-golfer field.
Melby's opening-round 71 (-4) equaled the Irish record for low round while setting a new standard for lowest round to par. Senior co-captain Katie King turned in a one-under 71 at last fall's Kentucky Invitational while freshman Mary Klein posted a three-under 71 at the recent Indiana Invitational.
King used rounds of 77 and 81 at the Illini Classic to post her fourth top-five finish of 1997-98 and third of the spring season, tying with Eastern Michigan's Stephanie Smoot for fifth at 158.
Klein added a round of 86 to her opening-day 77 to finish tied for 13th at 163 while sophomore Andrea Klee finished tied for 15th following rounds of 78-86/164. Freshman Becca Schloss counted to the team score Sunday with a round of 84, after firing 90 on Saturday.
Irish sophomores Beth Cooper (85-85) and Brigid Fisher (90-95) competed as individual entrants at the tournament.
TEAM STANDINGS (18 holes of 36): 1. Notre Dame 303-332/635 Illinois 308-327/635 3. Toledo 323-323/646 4. Northern Illinois 328-329/657 5. Tri-State 340-323/663 6. Bowling Green 334-333/667 7. Eastern Michigan 334-344/678 8. Missouri-Kansas City 338-342/680 9. Franklin 340-346/686 10. Xavier 339-348/687 11. Indianapolis 351-356/707 12. Grand Valley State 361-353/714 13. Truman State 356-359/715 14. Oakland 350-366/716 15. Lewis 358-373/731 16. DePauw 386-382/768
NOTES: King (77.44), Klein (79.11) and Klee (80.22) maintain Notre Dame's top scoring averages in the spring season while King (79.86) remains on pace to best her Irish record for a full season stroke average (80.17 in 1996-97) ... Klee's current average for 1997-98 (80.67) would rank 3rd in Irish history, just ahead of Alicia Murray's 1993-94 average (80.68) ... Melby sliced her 1997-98 average to 80.81, which would rank 5th in the Irish record books ... other 1997-98 averages: Klein (81.95), Schloss (83.27) and Cooper (83.48) ... King (81.57) lowered her Irish-record career stroke average by .06 while Melby dropped hers from 82.03 to 81.90 (2nd-best in Irish history) ... Melby and King continue to share the Irish record for career rounds counted to team score (78) while ranking 3rd in the Irish record book for pct. of rounds counted (86.6, 78/90) ... Klee (21/21) still is on pace to post the fifth Irish season of counting to every team round (no player ever has done so in a season of more than 21 rounds) ... Melby posted her 12th team-leading tournament effort, trailing only Kathy Phares (17, 1987-90) and King (13) in the Irish record book ... Melby's 152 represent the fourth-lowest 36-hole tournament in Irish women's golf history while her +2 finish is the best-ever 36-hole score to par ... the Irish team stroke average improved to 319.86--79.97 per counted round--well ahead of last year's record (326.71) ... Notre Dame's 635 total is the third-best 36-hole score by an Irish women's team while the opening-round 303 also ranks third in the Irish record book ... King has shot 80 or lower in eight of nine rounds during the spring while the Irish have shot below 320 in six of those rounds.