HENDERSON, Nev. – Former University of Notre Dame men’s golfer Mark Baldwin (’06) made program history on Tuesday, becoming the first modern era Irish golf alumnus to qualify for a PGA Tour event after earning entry into the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open during a qualifying round at the DragonRidge Country Club. The tournament will be held on Oct. 16-19 at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Baldwin was one of three players to punch his ticket to the tournament after competing in a four-man playoff for the final qualifying spots in the tournament field. Baldwin rolled in a birdie at the par 5 18th hole during the playoff on Tuesday to secure his bid.
Baldwin is believed to be the first Notre Dame men’s golf alumnus to qualify for a PGA Tour event in nearly 50 years. Tom Veech, a 1949 first team All-America selection for the Irish, enjoyed a successful PGA Tour career during the 1960s, with a career-best finish of fifth place at the 1967 Western Open behind eventual winner and 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. Veech made one career major start, tying for 34th place (72-73-77-76=298) at the 1966 United States Open.
The 1966 U.S. Open winner was another golfer with Notre Dame ties, three-time major champion and eight-time U.S. Ryder Cup selection Billy Casper. Casper attended Notre Dame in the fall of 1950 but never competed for the men’s golf team.
A bogey-free six-under-par 64 at DragonRidge Country Club on Monday vaulted Baldwin into the top four players that competed during Tuesday’s playoff. He birdied the par 4 third and sixth holes, along with the par 5 eighth hole, as part of an outward nine score of 32 (-3). Baldwin added birdies at No. 11, No. 16 and the par 5 18th hole on the way in for a second nine 32, capping his 64 and qualifying for the playoff.
Notable PGA Tour veterans who took part in the Monday qualifying round that did not make the field included four-time PGA Tour winner Tim Herron, three-time PGA Tour winner Scott McCarron, two-time PGA Tour winners Frank Lickliter II, Vaughn Taylor and Rod Pampling, 2005 EDS Byron Nelson Championship winner Ted Purdy and 2005 Zurich Classic of New Orleans winner Tim Petrovic.
A native of Laconia, New Hampshire, Baldwin was a four-year standout for Notre Dame, earning all-BIG EAST Conference honors in 2003, 2005 and 2006. He was selected as the 2005 BIG EAST Player of the Year after securing medalist honors in that season’s conference championship tournament held at Notre Dame’s Warren Golf Course. Baldwin’s third round six-under-par 66 at the 2006 BIG EAST tournament, in which he shared fifth place, remains tied for the best 18-hole round by an Irish player during a conference championship event since 1995.
After graduating from Notre Dame in 2006, Baldwin has taken part in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, and has played extensively on the Asian Tour, PGA Tour Canada, and most recently advanced to the second stage of the European Tour Q-School. Baldwin fired rounds of 74-72-69-70 to share 21st place at three-under-par (284) during a first stage Section D qualifying event in Lisbon, Portugal from Sept. 30-Oct. 3. The second stage of the European Tour Q-School will take place in November.
Fans can follow Baldwin’s progress at this weekend’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin by visitingPGATour.com.