MEN’S GOLF: Isban leads the Irish to a sixth-place finish
Bobby Griffin | Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Junior Cole Isban did everything he could, but in the end, his first-place finish in regulation was only good enough to give the Irish a sixth place finish in the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate Tuesday.
Isban fired back-to-back 69s in his first two rounds and then followed it up with a 72 on the final day, putting him in a three-way tie for first place with East Tennessee State’s Rhys Davis and Tennessee’s Jonathon Mount.
In the playoff, Isban lost on the first hole, and the other two leaders ended up sharing the win after being even after the four-hole finale.
Isban’s three-day 210 ties him for the second lowest score in Notre Dame’s history. Only Jeff Connell, who shot a 209 in the 1998 Marshall Invitational, bested that number.
Isban’s 69-69 to start the tournament was also the second lowest score in school history.
A 66-71 by Steve Retay in 1997 was the only lower Notre Dame score.
Despite the sixth-place finish, the Irish finished ahead of two ranked opponents – Florida and Alabama, teams that Notre Dame trailed after the first day.
The Irish ended Tuesday’s final round with an eight-over 872 (291-288-293), which tied the fifth lowest score in the school’s history.
Even more impressive is that it came at a course that has hosted a PGA championship event – something that Isban spoke about before the tournament.
“It’s supposed to a phenomenal place, and its supposed to be pretty tough,” Isban said. “You just want to play great courses, and this is definitely one of them.”
Florida, ranked No. 3, finished with an 874, and No. 17 Alabama struggled towards an 891.
No. 14 Georgia State finished just two strokes ahead of the Irish with an 870.
LSU’s 863 was good for the overall win, with No. 12 Tennessee finishing one shot out.
UAB, 867, and East Tennessee State, 869, also finished ahead of Notre Dame.
Senior Mark Baldwin finished 14th overall in the field, totaling a three-day 218 (73-72-73), and senior Eric Deutsch finished four strokes back with a 222 (74-73-75). Deutsch’s 222 was good for 32nd overall.
Senior Scott Gustafson closed out his tournament with a No. 38 finish, totaling a 223 (75-74-74).
Sophomore Greg Rodgers, playing in his first tournament of the season, struggled on the second day, but managed to shoot a 229 (76-79-74).
After the first round Monday, Notre Dame was in sixth place with a three-over 291.
Early rain made it impossible for the schools to finish the second round Monday when darkness set in, and they were forced to finish Tuesday morning.
Isban’s 210 is a large improvement over his rounds last weekend in the Gopher Classic. A first-round 80 left him with a 224 three-day total.
“It was the very first round of the year for us, so maybe that had something to do with that,” Isban said.
Isban knew coming into the weekend that his rounds would be lower, and was confident that a combination of first-outing jitters and unfavorable circumstances such as a delayed flight and the absence of a putting green, were to blame for his struggles in Minnesota.
Next weekend, the Irish will travel to Durham, North Carolina to compete in the Coca-Cola Duke Golf Classic on Sunday and Monday.