Men’s Golf: Freshman stands out in spring
Conor Kelly | Tuesday, March 6, 2012
With senior Max Scodro scorching the competition and the rest of the team struggling to meet its own lofty expectations, it was easy to overlook the performance of reigning Big East Freshman of the Year Niall Platt during the fall season. But as the spring season approaches, Platt’s play has become impossible to ignore.
“[Platt] has definitely played in the shadow of our three seniors, and they deserve all the accolades they get,” Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. “But many people don’t realize that he was just a shade under Max Scodro’s team-leading average last spring.”
Platt is quick to recognize the play of his teammates, especially the senior trio of Scodro, Tom Usher and Chris Walker.
“Our main goal is to win as a team,” Platt said. “Max is a great player. They’re all great players, and I love to see when we all play well.”
Named the Big East Golfer of the Week on Feb. 15 after going 4-0 at Notre Dame’s opening event, Platt’s early success, combined with the play of his teammates, has the Irish excited about the prospects of the young season.
“I felt great about our first event,” Platt said. “The biggest thing is that it’s a team effort. We had guys making comebacks all over the place. I think we’re set up really well going into spring break.”
As the Irish travel to Georgia for the break, Platt, a Southern California native, is relishing the opportunity to return to regular play outdoors, a luxury taken for granted in the Golden State.
“It’s tough to keep your game sharp the whole time when you’re playing indoors,” Platt said. “In California we would practice every day, but here we just have windows at either end of the school year. It’s hard to avoid rust.”
Even though Platt has been cooped up inside the Rolfs Family Varsity Golf Facility at the Warren Golf Course for much of the spring semester, Kubinski credits Platt’s work ethic for much of his early success.
“The kid is a hard worker, one of the hardest I’ve ever coached,” Kubinski said. “He’ll tell you that one of the areas of his game he has to work on is his short game, and he’s one of the best putters I’ve ever seen in college. He says that because his standards are so high.”
Not just a short-game specialist, Platt has executed his irons game with laser-like precision this spring. At one point, the sophomore hit 25-of-29 greens, a rate Kubinski says is above the PGA average.
“His ball striking has really improved,” Kubinski said. “He really has an all-around game. Lots of professionals don’t put up the numbers that he did a few weeks ago at the Match Play.”
With three seniors in the starting lineup set to graduate in May, Platt will soon be out of the shadows and in the spotlight. Until then, Kubinski says Platt is content to play an understated but essential role on this Irish squad.
“He’s a great kid, a great young man,” Kubinski said. “He’s a Barry Sanders-type golfer. If he were to score a touchdown, he would just calmly hand the ball to the referee.”
Contact Conor Kelly at email@example.com.