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Tough two days for Irish

Annie Brusky | Thursday, March 4, 2004

To be the best you have the play the best, and the Irish know this season will be no smooth ride.Up against nine ranked teams at this week’s Cleveland Golf Collegiate Invitational Notre Dame finished 17th out of 17 teams with a total of 918 (297-310-311), 66-over par. No. 10 Texas ran away with the tournament at 5-under par 847, a full 15 strokes ahead of host school and second-place finisher USC.”We’re pretty disappointed about how we performed as a team,” sophomore Scott Gustafson said. “We can’t go in against teams like that, play as we did and expect to do well.”Gustafson led the Irish with a 3-over score of 216 (73-68-75) that landed him in a tie for 14th place. This was Gustafson’s best finish since placing third at the SMU/Stonebridge Invitational in October with a career-low 68 in the second round.”It was a step in the right direction for me,” Gustafson said. “It was nice for me to play well and see how I stack up against the best players when I’m playing pretty well.”Fellow sophomore Tommy Balderston tied for 64th place at 16-over par with a score of 229 (73-81-75). Balderston looked to be in the hunt until a string of bogies midway through the second round held him back.Freshman Cole Isban tied for 78th place at 21-over 234, while sophomores Eric Deutsch (77-82-80) and Mark Balwin (77-82-91) rounded out the Irish lineup, placing 85th and 90th, respectively.”Playing against all these players from the big name teams, some of the top players in the country, we weren’t intimidated but we were excited and a little anxious I guess,” Gustafson said. “We really wanted to do our best that maybe we tried too hard. We wanted to play well so badly that we kind of shot ourselves in the foot.”The team has a quick turnaround with a match against Alabama Friday. While the Irish will also participate in the Conrad Rehling Spring Invitational March 12, the team will use that week to practice for upcoming competitions. “The time beforehand will be big for us,” Gustafson said. “It will help us a lot this time to get in a good competitive mindset and get our games in better shape.”The Irish hope to take something away from this week’s disappointing finish and use it to motivate themselves in remaining tournaments.”We’re looking forward to opportunities to do well in the future,” Gustafson said.