SOUTH BEND, IN. — Low scores were the order of the day Monday when the Fighting Irish Classic men’s golf tournament concluded its two-day run at Warren Golf Course.
No. 5 Tennessee shot a 10-under total of 270 to leap over 36-hole leader Indiana and leave the Hoosiers and the other 12 teams in its wake with a 10-under 830 total, seven strokes better than runners-up Indiana and Northwestern with host Notre Dame finishing fourth at 843.
Meanwhile, Northwestern sophomore Ethan Tseng carded a course record-tying, 8-under 62 in his tour of the par-70, 7,023-yard Warren designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw that opened in 2000. Warren played host to the U.S. Senior Open in 2019 during which eventual winner Steve Stricker and runner-up David Toms had matching 62s in the opening round.
“During the practice round, I knew this was going to be a precision course, so I didn’t take a lot of drivers off the tee and put a lot of emphasis on precision (shot-making),” said Tseng, who holed out his second shot on the 410-yard third hole for eagle and then added birdies at the par-5 fifth and the par-3 ninth to turn in 4-under 31. On the back nine, Tseng made three straight birdies at the 443-yard 12th, the 433-yard 13th and the 210-yard 14th before making birdie at the 565-yard 17th hole for an incoming 4-under 31.
Northwestern’s No. 1 player, sophomore Daniel Svard of Sweden, matched par 70 to finish in solo fourth at 4-under 206. The Wildcats as a team totaled 4-under 276. But the Wildcats’ 1-2 punch could not match the Tennessee twosome of Caleb Surratt and Bryce Lewis, who finished second and third, respectively, behind Tseng in leading coach Brennan Webb’s Volunteers to victory.
Sophomore Surratt, the team’s No. 1 player, shot a 4-under 66 to finish at 203, two strokes ahead of redshirt-senior No. 4 Lewis, who shot a 3-under 67 which was matched by sophomore No. 2 Evan Woosley-Reed. Woosley-Reed finished tied for 15th in a group which included teammate Jake Hall, a redshirt senior.
“We didn’t play our best yesterday,” Webb said of his team’s pair of even-par 280s Sunday. “I was very happy with the way we responded. This is an incredible golf course. Bryce has been a pretty good player for us over the last three years but has struggled a little this year. To finish third individually was amazing. Obviously, Caleb is a special player and does this a lot.”
Coach Mike Mayer’s Hoosiers, who were the only team under par after the first two rounds Sunday at 4-under 556, totaled 281 Monday as senior No. 1 Salyers shot 70 to finish tied for fifth at 3-under 207. Redshirt junior Robbie Bender shot 70 to finish tied for ninth at 1-under 209, a stroke ahead of Cole Stearns who also matched par 70. Salyers shot 64 in his first round Sunday and Bender shot 65 in the second round.
“We talked last night that we needed someone to go low to win (as a team) because people were going to low today,” Mayer said. “We shot some good scores – 70, 70, 70, 71 and 73 – but with the talent at this level, you have to be on your game every round and every shot.”
A pair of freshmen – No. 3 Rocco Salvitti of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, and No. 5 Jacob Modleski of Noblesville (the runner-up in the Indiana High School state tournament for team champion Guerin Catholic) – finished seventh and 11th individually for coach John Handrigan’s Irish. Salvitti made seven birdies in his roller-coaster round of 2-under 68 which left him at 2-under 208. Modleski made a pair of back-nine birdies to rally for a 2-under 68 at even-par 210.
Graduate Palmer Jackson, Notre Dame’s No. 1 player, made three birdies in his round of 1-under 69 which left him tied at 15th at 1-over 211. Senior Angelo Marcon (70) and sophomore Nate Stevens (71) finished tied for 36th individually at 6-over 216
“It shows you how promising our team is,” Handrigan said of the performances put in by Salvitti, Modleski and Jackson. “Once we get our upperclassmen going, we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with for sure.
“Obviously you want to be on top and win,” Handrigan added. “We didn’t get that done but we learned a lot and got better. There are a few things we need to work on. This golf course was outstanding, and we set it up with tough hole locations and you have to have discipline with those hole locations. We didn’t do that the first two rounds.”
The Irish travel to Scotland and play the Old Course in the Saint Andrews Collegiate Invitational Oct. 23-25.