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Women top tournament, men hope to excel

Eric Retter | Monday, September 27, 2004

Five members of the Irish men’s golf team will compete today and Tuesday at the John Dallio Memorial in West Chicago, Ill.. The event will be hosted by DePaul University and played at the Prairie Landing Golf Club.

Many teams, including host DePaul, will be competing in the tournament as teams. However, Notre Dame will not compete as a team, as all five Irish golfers are entered as individuals.

“We are not competing as a team, but we view this as a chance to give people on the bubble of making the lineup a chance to get experience and let us find out who we should use in our lineup,” assistant head coach Chris Whitten said.

In NCAA rules, each team and each player have a maximum of 24 competition days they can schedule during the season. Every year, the Irish max out their schedule with events for the varsity team, mostly against teams of equal or greater caliber. As a result, struggling or developing players may not see competition as much as they or the coach would prefer. To allow these players to play and make their case, they are often inserted as individuals into weaker fields, often dubbed “JV events.”

“We just try to give them some confidence and let them show us what they can do,” Whitten says.

One of the golfers competing in the event is junior Tommy Balderston. Balderston, a steady and capable contributor to the Irish team last year, has had some troubles early on this season trying to pick up where he left off.

“Tommy was struggling when he came to school this fall, he was one of our top five all last year,” Whitten said. “Since he didn’t play in either of the first two tournaments, he’s okay with competition days [limit], so we’re putting him in there.”

Four other Irish golfers will be joining Balderston, including junior Daniel Klauer and sophomore Adam Gifford. Two other golfers, junior Federico Salazar and freshman Eddie Peckels, are competing in their first events of the season. In Peckles’ case, the John Dallio Memorial will be the first competition of his career.

Whitten is confident that this event will help light a spark in his players, and feels that every member of the team could do well.

“[At Prairie Landing], even someone who’s shooting average can still shoot a low score,” Whitten said. “Everyone [from the Irish] is capable of winning.”

With a good two days and a strong week of qualifying, those players competing this weekend hope to earn their spot in the team’s lineup and compete for the Irish. The varsity team will be back in action again on Oct. 4, at the Windon Memorial Classic in Lake Forest, Ill., possibly including one or more of the players battling it out this weekend.