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Men’s Golf: Platt leads young squad

Joseph Monardo | Monday, September 17, 2012

His game as firmly connected to his past as geared toward his future, Irish junior Niall Platt has a chance to shine for Notre Dame this season.

The golfer with the second-lowest career stroke average in Irish history will attempt to improve on his mark of 73.61 and add valuable experience to a young Irish roster.

In its first outing of the season, Notre Dame stumbled to a ninth-place finish, 23 strokes off the lead, at the Tar Heel Intercollegiate over the weekend. But the largely inexperienced team’s first outing wasn’t a lost cause, Platt said.

“Obviously we were a little disappointed with the way we played,” he said. “We have a young team, we have some guys out there who don’t have a lot of experience – we have a couple guys who have only played in one or two college tournaments – and I would say they performed decently well. It’s good for them to get some experience. And for me, at least, I know what I need to work on for the next tournament.”

After earning Big East freshman of the year honors two seasons ago and finding a spot on consecutive All-Big East teams, Platt will be expected to be one of the leaders for this Irish squad both on the links and off.

The Santa Barbara, Calif., native got his start at a young age as he learned the basics of the game from his father. But the education didn’t stop with the basics, Platt said.

“Originally, I guess my dad got me into [golf] … He taught me from a very young age and I picked up on it pretty quickly,” he said. “I have definitely learned the most from my dad … He is still my main coach. He’s been my coach since I was like seven years old.”

Platt, an applied and computational mathematics and statistics major, has come a long way from that seven-year old student. Trailing only former Irish golfer Max Scodro in career stroke average, Platt has a shot to leave his mark in program history.

“I guess [it is a goal], but it is something, if I start thinking about it, it’s not going to help me,” Platt said. “I am going to try to not worry about that. I have a long way to go, I’ve got two years. If I play well, maybe I’ll pass him. If I don’t, then I won’t. But I just have to try to stick to each round, each shot. That’s what I need to focus on.”

While he chases Scodro’s record, Platt also hopes to follow the example set by the two-time Big East player of the year on the course.

“He definitely set a high bar for the rest of us,” Platt said. “Last year he played well – he was an All-American. The way he’s played so far professionally has definitely made me want to work harder and follow in his footsteps. Hopefully I’ll play as well as he did at school and then hopefully move it on to play professionally.”
For now, however, records, accolades and future careers are subordinate to another of Platt’s roles on the Notre Dame squad.

“Just try to be a leader, just try to help whenever [my teammates] need help,” he said. “Just work your hardest to get ready for the next tournament and try to set a good example for them.”

Platt and the rest of the Irish will resume play on Sept. 29 at the Macdonald Cup at Yale University.

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu