SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- With almost every golfer returning from last season, Saint Mary's coach Scott Hardy expected experience would play a big factor in the Gaels' success this year.
Last week, SMC made a late surge but came up just short in a 2-stroke loss to San Diego State. This week, experience was key as the Gaels were determined to make sure they didn't come up short.
Senior Jonathan De Los Reyes birdied two of his last three holes to take medalist honors and Saint Mary's tied host Notre Dame for the team title today at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic in South Bend, Ind.
The team victory marked the first of the season for SMC and handed the Gaels their first team title since winning the Jim West Intercollegiate last April. Since Scott Hardy became head coach of the Gaels, SMC has won 18 team titles.
The Gaels fired the tournament's low round with a 4-under par 280 to overcome a mid-round deficit and earn the title title for the second time in their three appearances at the event. Both teams finished at 2-under par 850 to finish five strokes ahead of third place Wofford College at Warren Golf Course on the UND campus, which was recently named as one of the top on-campus courses in the country
"I'm really happy with our team performance today," said SMC head coach Scott Hardy, which led his team to a co-title with Houston at the 2011 event. "Notre Dame built a lead during today's final round, but our guys battled back and were able to take advantage when the opportunity presented itself. We did have a few setbacks, especially when it seemed we had some momentum. But, the guys made it happen in the end and were rewarded for it."
De Los Reyes earned medalist honors by three strokes over four golfers that shared runner-up honors. His final round 4-under par 67 equaled the tournament's best score and his 6-under par 207 is the second-lowest 54-hole score in tournament history and De Los Reyes' second lowest in a collegiate event. It marked his first collegiate victory and the first for a SMC golfer since Ben Geyer won the Saint Mary's Invitational in 2012.
Junior Hunter Rappleye and sophomore Connor Blick tied for 13th place at even par 213 and finished as the Gaels' second-low scorers. Rappleye fired rounds of 69-73-71, while Blick went 72-69-72. In what proved to be one of the day's most important shots, Blick chipped-in for birdie on the par 5 17th hole.
Sophomore Pavan Sagoo moved up 15 spots in the standings after firing a 1-under par 70 today. The London, England native finished in a tie for 33rd at 8-over 221 with rounds of 75-76-70.
Roman Aragon turned in scores of 79-72-75 to tied for 47th at 13-over par 226.
Saint Mary's will take the next two weeks off before returning to action at the Nick Watney Invitational at Fort Washington Country Club in Fresno on Oct. 5-6. The Gaels have three tournaments remaining in their fall season, which concludes Nov. 2-4 at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational in Kaua'i.