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Gustafson leads Irish to tournament championship

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, October 15, 2003

McKINNEY, Texas – For the first time in nearly four years, the Notre Dame men’s golf team has earned the title of tournament champion, winning the SMU/Stonebridge Invitational by one stroke over Lamar on Tuesday afternoon. The Irish carded a final-round 306 and held off the hard-charging Cardinals, posting a three-round score of 882 (286-290-306) to capture their first championship since Oct. 19, 1999, when they won the Louisville Intercollegiate by two shots. This year’s tournament was held on the par-72, 7,202-yard Dye Course at Stonebridge Country Club in McKinney, Texas.

Notre Dame’s victory was especially sweet, as it came at the expense of two squads that were ranked in the top 50 of the current Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index ratings. No. 30 Vanderbilt wound up six shots behind the Irish and tied for fifth place (888), while No. 39 Southeastern Louisiana finished ninth with a score of 898, 16 shots back of Notre Dame.

Sophomores Scott Gustafson and Tommy Balderston were the pacesetters in Notre Dame’s victory. Gustafson fired a final-round 71 and finished in third place overall with a career-low score of six-under par 210 (70-69-71). That matches the second-lowest 54-hole total in school history, a mark topped only by Jeff Connell’s score of 209 at the 1998 Marshall Invitational, and Gustafson’s six-under par total equals the school record for the lowest score in relation to par (Alex Kent at the 2000 Legends of Indiana Intercollegiate). Meanwhile, Balderston made the Dye Course his personal playground for the second year in a row, registering a score of two-under par 214 (68-72-74). That was one shot behind his career best of 213, which he set at last year’s SMU/Stonebridge Invitational.

Freshman Cole Isban was one of three Irish golfers who struggled a bit during the final round. Isban shot an 80 on Tuesday and wound up tied for 27th place at nine-over par 225 (73-72-80). Fellow freshman Shane Sigsbee wrapped up his homecoming by tying for 69th place at 236 (78-77-81), while sophomore Eric Deutsch completed the Notre Dame lineup with a 71st-place finish at 237 (75-81-81).

The Irish won’t have much time to celebrate their tournament title as they return to the links Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 20-21 for The Tillinghast in Scarsdale, N.Y., hosted by St. John’s. It will mark Notre Dame’s second appearance in the tournament, having placed 15th in 2001.

SMU/Stonebridge Invtational

Standings: (54-hole totals):  1. NOTRE DAME 882 (286-290-306); 2. Lamar 883 (287-300-296); 3. (tie) North Texas 885 (298-292-295) and Wichita State 885 (286-296-303); 5. (tie) Vanderbilt 888 (290-293-305) and SMU 888 (294-288-306); 7. Ohio State 890 (292-304-294); 8. Oklahoma City 895 (296-301-298); 9. Southeastern Louisiana 898 (291-305-302); 10. Baylor 900 (300-300-300); 11. McNeese State 905 (290-301-314); 12. Tulane 909 (303-302-304); 13. Iowa State 913 (298-308-307); 14. Arkansas-Little Rock 917 (297-310-310); 15. Louisiana-Lafayette 923 (299-312-312); 16. Texas-Arlington 925 (303-306-316); 17. College of Charleston 930 (312-308-310).

Top 10 Individuals

1. Chris Stroud (Lamar) 205 (68-72-65); 2. Colt Knost (SMU) 206 (66-69-71); 3. Scott Gustafson (Notre Dame) 210 (70-69-71); 4. Tommy Balderston (Notre Dame) 214 (68-72-74); 5. (tie) Zach Atkinson (North Texas) 215 (70-74-71) and John May (Wichita State) 215 (72-71-72); 7. Brett Williams (Ohio State) 216 (72-75-69); 8. Tyrone Van Aswegen (Oklahoma City) 217 (71-74-72); 9. Brett Bergeron (Southeastern Louisiana) 218 (70-77-71); 10. Luke List (Vanderbilt) 219 (72-72-75).

Notre Dame Individuals

3. Scott Gustafson 210 (70-69-71); 4. Tommy Balderston 214 (68-72-74); 27. (tie) Cole Isban 225 (73-72-80); 69. (tie) Shane Sigsbee 236 (78-77-81); 71. (tie) Eric Deutsch 237 (75-81-81).