Irish claim fifth in ACC, hungry for more
Michael Pilger | Friday, May 13, 2022
The Notre Dame men’s golf team ended their regular season in early April, earning second place at the Stitch Intercollegiate golf tournament hosted by North Carolina State University. The team then competed in the ACC championships and finished fifth out of 12. Junior golfer Palmer Jackson tied for third out of 60 in the competition. The Irish lingered around the top-five for all three days of the tournament but were never able to overcome the first-round lead of North Carolina.
The top-five finish in the tournament is their best since the team moved into the ACC from the Big East in 2013. And, it’s a huge improvement over the last three years. The only thing more impressive is the consistent top-five regular season performance that the team was able to produce throughout the year. In 10 competitions of 12 or more schools, the Irish finished in the top five in nine and on the podium for seven.
The team‘s consistency during the regular season is even more obvious when looking at the statistics over the course of the year. The Irish never shot a score better than 16-under-par, but never worse than 9-under-par. It’s that consistency that brought them to the fifth-place finish in the ACC. Coach John Handrigan noted that this consistency comes as a result of the team’s depth.
“Any given player can shoot under par on any given day. The players back each other up,” Handrigan said.
Additionally, that score of 16-under-par came in the ACC championship, at a time requiring the best play. The five golfers that competed for the Irish during the ACC Championships were Jackson, graduate student Davis Chatfield, sophomore Angelo Marcon and seniors Andrew O’Leary and Taichi Kho. Jackson and Chatfield finished third and 10th in the pool of 60, respectively. Strong performances over the entire season make Jackson and Chatfield a huge part of the team’s performance. Neither one of them dropped a single round throughout the year. This means that they both made up two of the top four in every competition they played in throughout the year. Ultimately, their scores contributed to raising the overall score for the Irish.
In particular, Jackson’s success this year has not gone unnoticed. Named after the late golfing legend Arnold Palmer, Jackson was invited to play for the U.S. Palmer Cup team. Jackson is the first player from Notre Dame to be selected to the team and will play in Switzerland from July 1 to 3. The tournament contains players at the collegiate level from both the United States and Europe.
Despite the team’s performance over the course of the year, they are by no means satisfied with their results.
“We’re not happy with the result. We’re not satisfied with being fifth in the ACC. When [the team] got back, they were motivated for the NCAA Regionals. They’re not done yet,” coach Handrigan said.
This kind of attitude is a large part of the team’s success this season. Coach Handrigan also mentioned that the culture within the team is a huge factor in their newfound success. They motivate and push each other to their full potential, regardless of recent performance. The Irish have never qualified for the NCAA Championships. Given the third seed at the Palm Beach Gardens Regional, they hope to change that this year. They’ll tee off for the first round of their regional May 16.