Osterberger: Veteran leaders, young talent have Irish on roll
Wally Osterberger | Thursday, October 17, 2019
So far this season, the Irish men’s golf team has been imperious in their travels after winning three of the first four tournaments this season, including the Fighting Irish Classic here at the Warren Golf Course.
This hot streak became totally clear in the Fighting Irish Classic. If they had been slept on prior to this despite their successes, surely no golf program across the country can ignore what is happening here in South Bend after the Irish trumped a very strong field, containing well-respected programs such as No. 8 Arizona State and No. 13 North Carolina.
Unlike many teams around the country, the success of the Irish is not due to the outstanding performances of just one player — rather all members of the team have stepped up so far this fall. However, of the nine members of the squad, three have stood out for their consistently solid performances.
One key to the extremely solid performances so far is that they have been paced from the leadership of the team. Senior Hunter Ostrom has been brilliant so far for the Irish, leading the team in almost every stat. Ostrom, after 12 rounds, has the fewest strokes, lowest average and the most top-five and top-10 finishes. His hard work and dedication have, of course, helped the team to reach new heights so far this year, but have also guided him to one second place finish at the Badger Invitational and a total of 11 under par so far on the year.
In addition to the senior leadership, there has been a new spark in the team this year — perhaps provided by Palmer Jackson, the freshman from Murraysville, Pennsylvania. Jackson is second in every individual statistic led by Ostrom. He is averaging just below 71 per 18 holes on the year and has scored an overall -4, both outstanding and promising for the future. He even bests Ostrom’s three top-25 finishes with four of his own.
The other top performer so far, coming off an outstanding performance at home, is junior Davis Chatfield. Chatfield is averaging 71 so far and has only recorded on strokes more than his freshman teammate Jackson so far. However, of all his teammates, Chatfield has recorded the overall best 18 holes, by scoring a phenomenal 64 in the second round of the Fighting Irish Classic, which he also secured with a clutch up and down to hold off the opposition from North Carolina.
These three will certainly be key to the Irish performance at the Quail Valley Collegiate Invitational, as head coach John Handrigan’s men will travel down to Vero Beach, Florida, and play Sunday and Monday. Currently ranked the No. 7 team in the country, the Irish will be confident entering the tournament. But golf is a fickle game and maintaining focus and concentration on the task at hand will be essential. The field is smaller at just seven and includes a talented and highly performing No. 25 UAB squad who would like nothing more than to overcome the Irish. Being mentally strong is one of this team’s great strengths, and there is nothing to suggest that will not continue to be the case.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.