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Gustafson leads team to No. 5 overall finish

Bobby Griffin | Monday, September 19, 2005

Irish coach Jim Kubinski did not know what to expect from the course at the Gopher Invitational, unaware of how the new layout would play, and Notre Dame quickly found out that it would be much different than it had anticipated.

Notre Dame responded by finishing No. 5 out of 12 teams, the team’s fifth top-5 finish in its last eight appearances.

Notre Dame totaled an 893 (309-297-287), and its Sunday score was tied with Washington with the second best round all weekend, second to Minnesota’s 284 round on Saturday.

Going into the weekend, Kubinski anticipated that driving the ball well would be a huge factor in the team’s performance.

However, after arriving at the course and seeing the bottleneck fairways, it was clear the Irish were going to need to lay up tee shots, and hit lower irons for their second shots.

“You were constantly laying back to a distance where you didn’t have to deal with that narrow part of the fairway,” senior Mark Baldwin said. “It was more about who was playing the most intelligent off of the tee, and I think the teams that decided to play aggressively were actually penalized for that significantly.”

The Irish also had a little difficulty with the greens, as the green speed proved to be a challenge all weekend.

“Around the greens, they were different than the greens we’re used to because they are really fast,” Baldwin said. “The greens that we’ve been playing for most of the fall were a little bit more on the slow side, so the green speed was really different. Its quite an adjustment to have to make.”

Despite the No. 5 finish, the Irish were not happy with their performance as the team felt it could have done much more in the tournament.

“I think coach was pretty disappointed,” Baldwin said. “We are a really talented team and we had great expectations coming into the tournament. We’re taking this as a poor tournament actually, a poor finish for us, because we thought we could have come in here and won.”

Minnesota and Washington tied for first, shooting 883 – 301-284-298 for Minnesota and 302-294-287 for Washington – but Minnesota won the tournament on a tie breaker, as their fifth golfer posted a better round than Washington’s.

The Huskies’ fifth golfer was disqualified after the second round when he did not sign his scorecard after completing Saturday’s round.

Georgia State and Purdue tied for third with scores of 890.

Senior Scott Gustafson led the way for the Irish, firing a 218 (73-73-72) over the three-day tournament, a score that was good for a No. 6 individual finish.

Mark Baldwin was also in the top 10, finishing No. 10 overall, shooting a 219 (76-72-71).

With Gustafson and Baldwin finishing in the top 10, it was the first time the Irish had done that since the 2004 Rice Invitational when Cole Isban and Tommy Balderston accomplished that same feat.

Isban finished tied for No. 22, shooting a 224 after a first-round 80. He responded by shooting even par in his next two rounds combined (80-74-70).

The 70 Isban shot on Saturday was the best individual round by an Irish player all weekend, but the with a more consistent round on Friday, the Irish would have been right in the thick of things.

“[Isban] had a very uncharacteristic round,” Baldwin said.

Eric Deutsch and Mike King finished tied for No. 42 and No. 58 respectively, firing a 233 and a 242.

Despite the disappointing tournament, Baldwin felt that the team’s feeling might speak to what it is capable of accomplishing.

“If this is as poor of an event as you can have, if you feel like you’ve played poorly, what does that say that’s gonna happen when you play well,” Baldwin said. “What kind of results will you be getting when you live up to those expectations? I feel like this is just gonna lead us to bigger and better things.”