The golf program at this storied university qualified for the NCAA finals for the first time in 58 years

Deep in the heart of Texas Wednesday, coach John Handrigan’s Notre Dame men found the right golf shots at the right time to do something the program hadn’t accomplished since 1966 — qualify for the NCAA championship as a team.

No. 3 player Nate Stevens followed a holed-out second shot for eagle 2 at the par-4, 427-yard 17th with a birdie 3 at the par-4, 517-yard 18th hole of the University of Texas Golf Club to finish a three-under-par round of 68 which helped the Irish to a third-place finish in the 54-hole NCAA Austin (Texas) Regional.

Stevens, a sophomore from Northfield, Minn., who started the day tied for 37th place individually, ended up tied for 12th – sharing the largest improvement in the field on the day. His one-under 212 total left Stevens second on the team behind freshman No. 5 Rocco Salvitti of Canonsburg, Pa.. who birdied the 16th and 17th holes on his way to a one-over 72 which left him tied for ninth individually at two-under 211.

Freshman No. 2 Jacob Modleski of Noblesville, Ind., and Guerin Catholic, gave Handrigan and the Irish a third Top-15 finish at even-par 213 following a closing one-over 73.

With the youngsters leading the way, Notre Dame was able to overcome a four-over 288 round to finish third at six-under 846 behind host Texas, which shot five-under 279 to run away with the team title at 27-under 825 thanks to the efforts of medalist Christian Maas (66-204) and runner-up Nathan Petronzio (69-205).

Tennessee, led by Bryce Lewis’ 70-208 effort, shot 285 for a three-day total of 841, five strokes better than the Irish, who had rounds of four-over 75 from graduate captain Palmer Jackson and senior No. 4 Angelo Marcon. Jackson was at two-over 215 to finish tied for 25th while Marcon totaled 217 for a tie for 35thplace.

Texas, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Utah (850) and Wake Forest (854) qualified as teams and individual Kelvin Hernandez of UNC Greensboro also advanced to the NCAA finals May 25-29 at the par-72, 6,996-yard North course at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.

The 5-foot-9 Salvitti, easily Notre Dame’s most consistent player during the 54 holes as his rounds of 70, 69 and 72 attest, birdied the first hole but then couldn’t get anything to drop while making 10 pars and four bogeys. But Salvitti finished strongly with a birdie at the par-3, 248-yard 16th hole, another birdie at the 427-yard 17th and a par at 18.

The 6-foot-2 Stevens, too, had to overcome some early struggles. He had a roller-coaster start with three birdies and two bogeys in his first seven holes and then doubled the 605-yard, par-5 ninth to go out in one-over 36. But he closed with a four-under 32 thanks to two birdies and his holed-out eagle at the par-4 17th.

The 5-foot-10 Modleski, who had a pair of 70s to open the tournament, made double bogeys on the par-3 second and par-4 sixth holes in addition to two other bogeys. But he offset them with four birdies, the last at the 13th hole before finishing with five straight pars.

The 6-foot-1 Jackson, who grew up in western Pennsylvania and is named after golfing great Arnold Palmer, had 14 pars and four bogeys in his round of 75. The 5-foot-10 Marcon, a senior from San Francisco, had three birdies, not enough to offset the five bogeys and one double he made in his round of 75.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek