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Men finish second despite slow start

Annie Brusky | Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The Notre Dame men’s golf team powered its way to a second place finish at the Rice Intercollegiate after compiling the lowest team scores in each of the final two rounds.Finding themselves in ninth place after the first round Monday, the Irish answered by shooting 289 and 303 in the following two rounds to tie with Denver for second place at 36-over par 900, only five strokes behind the tournament champion, Texas-San Antonio.The team had hoped to win the tournament, but the lack of practice time due to the winter weather made their goal difficult to achieve.”I think we did well for having stepped out and seen grass for the first time in three months,” freshman Cole Isban said. Sophomore Tommy Balderston came through with a strong performance and earned his highest placement ever as he tied for fourth place at 2-over par 216 (78-68-72).Isban, a freshman, finished in eighth place with 5-over 221, the second top-10 finish of his young career.Sophomores Mark Baldwin and Scott Gustafson finished 33rd and 42nd, respectively, while freshman Shane Sigsbee placed 63rd.Yesterday’s final round was even more impressive in that the team was able to carry Monday’s momentum on despite the cold temperatures, strong winds and pouring rain.”It was really hard to keep the scores down,” Isban said.The Rice Intercollegiate marks the third top-two finish of the 2003-04 season for the Irish, and the team is happy to start the spring portion of its schedule off on a good note.Young, but talented, the team is hoping to win the Big East and fare well in the NCAA Tournament. With a difficult schedule ahead, this week’s tournament gave them needed experience early in the season.”It was a pretty good team effort,” Isban said of their second place finish, “but, obviously, we have a ways to go.”Their next event, to be hosted by USC, is not until the beginning of March.