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ND MENS GOLF: Baldwin’s performance at Warren typical of game

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 15, 2005

Golfers worldwide know Masters’ Saturday as “Moving Day.”

This year, Moving Day was the perfect title not just for Tiger Woods’ move into contention at Augusta, but also for Mark Baldwin’s move into the record books with a stellar round for Notre Dame at the Warren Golf Course.

Playing against Texas Christian in a dual-match competition Saturday, Baldwin went out on a tear and etched his name in the Irish annals, shooting a seven-under 63.

“Everything just really fell into place,” Baldwin said. “I felt comfortable.”

He felt so comfortable that it wasn’t until the 13th hole when he realized just how impressive his round was.

“Quite honestly, I really didn’t know where I stood until the 13th hole,” he said.

After two birdies in his previous three holes, teammate Eric Deutsch opened Baldwin’s eyes to his unknowing pursuit of a record.

“Eric said to me, ‘Dude, you have a chance to shoot 59 today if you birdie the last five out of six,'” Baldwin said.

He would not pull off that feat, but he would birdie two more and bogey only one to reach seven-under on his round, setting a slew of records in the process.

His front nine on the par-70 course put him in the rare waters of having a chance at such a feat as a 59, as he made an eagle and two birdies to make the turn in 31.

After several holes of stellar iron play to start the round, Baldwin finally got momentum with a 50-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole, and he followed that up with a chip-in eagle on five.

“That was kind of how I got my round jump-started,” he said. “The first few holes, I hit it pretty close but missed a few putts. Then I hit a 50-footer to finally get under par.”

One hole later, he chipped in from just off the green for an eagle, reaching three-under through five.

With an improbable birdie on the 185-yard, par-3 ninth, he had reached four-under at the turn.

“That shot isn’t really a shot that fits anyone’s eye well,” he said. “Just to get it on the green, you’re pretty happy.

“I hit a smooth six iron to four feet and made birdie.”

At that point, he could have played the back in even-par and still have tied the course record.

But that was not his intention in the least.

Baldwin said that he was unable to maintain good starts to rounds earlier in the year because he was too focused on posting a specific score.

“I had been concentrating too much on posting a number or parring out to shoot a number,” he said. “That probably led to the downfall of those rounds.”

He didn’t have that problem this time because he wasn’t thinking about his round in those terms Saturday.

Playing in the same group as Baldwin was Deutsch. “I got to see that round first hand,” he said. “It was amazing.”

Deutsch was most impressed with the way Baldwin continued to attack even when he had reached deep into red figures.

“It was very impressive to watch [Baldwin] handle himself,” he said. “Usually people get nervous when they are under par like that, but he wanted to make more birdies.”

Baldwin stayed aggressive, going after pins and taking firm strokes on his putts.

Thanks to that style, the back saw Baldwin sink four more birdie putts and make his only blemish – a bogey – for a 32 on the back and a 63 for his morning 18.

While that score beat the 42-year-old, all-time Notre Dame record by a single stroke, it demolished the eight-month-old Warren Course record by three.

Previously, Notre Dame’s school record for a round belonged to Mike O’Connell. In a quadrangular match on May 4, 1963, O’Connell fired a 64 at the old Burke Memorial Golf Course.

Indiana’s Jeff Overton set the previous competitive round course record on September 19, 2004, posting a four-under 66 en route to a second-place finish at the Notre Dame Invita-tional/Central Regional Preview.

Both records, one time-tested and one quite recent, fell Saturday, as Baldwin played the round of his young life.

However, he had another 18 to play that afternoon.

“It’s kind of funny, because after a 63, it’s kind of difficult to know how to play a next round,” he said.

“Relative to the first round, even if you’re one-over, that’s not a very good score.”

In that afternoon round, Baldwin played well, but still posted a score nine strokes higher than his morning 18.

“I was battling my swing a little bit … but I felt I was still comfortable,” he said.

While Baldwin’s 137 (63-74) on Saturday won him first place individually and Deutsch’s solid 145 (72-73) was impressive, Notre Dame’s afternoon round cost the team the tournament.

The Irish went out in a stellar two-over 282, but shot a 299 in the second round.

“It was a really nice opportunity for us to get a nice win with TCU, ranked 10 or 11 in the country,” Baldwin said.

In a reversal of fortunes, TCU compensated for its opening 292 with a remarkable nine-under 271 to beat the Irish by 18.

Baldwin was in awe of TCU’s round. “Two-seventy-one is a score I didn’t think I’d ever see on the Warren,” he said. “It was just unbelievable.”

The nine-under for TCU came largely thanks to David Schultz, who nearly broke Baldwin’s hours-old record, eventually carding a six-under 64.

As chance would have it, Baldwin and Deutsch were in the same group with Schultz all day, and their foursome witnessed the two lowest rounds in course history on the same day.

Perhaps that’s only fitting – it was Moving Day.

Two golfers moved into Warren history, and one moved into Irish lore