April 5, 2014
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. - The University of Notre Dame men's golf team utilized a 10-stroke team improvement from round one in its afternoon 18 holes on Saturday at the Irish Creek Collegiate, tying for sixth place following the opening day of play at The Club at Irish Creek. The Irish carded an afternoon score of one-over-par 285 as part of a team total of 580 (295-285) to finish one shot outside of the top five after the tournament's first 36 holes.
Senior tri-captain Niall Platt made a team-high eight birdies during day one of play, and held a share of the overall tournament lead at one point in his second round. Starting at the 13th hole in the shotgun start format, Platt recorded three birdies in a six-hole stretch of the front nine during the morning first round. A four at the par 5, 541-yard sixth hole enabled Platt to post a two-under 33 on the front side. A birdie at the 12th hole, his final of the round, capped a one-under-par 70 for Platt in his morning 18.
The Santa Barbara, Calif. native enjoyed a similar hot streak over the first five holes of The Club at Irish Creek, birdieing the first, third and fifth holes to move to three-under-par for his second round. Platt held his ground during a difficult stretch at the end of his day, posting a second straight 70 to finish three strokes off the lead in a share of third place (140, -2).
"Niall did a great job today, once again leading our team," Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. "I think this morning was his low opening round of the year. He had it really going this afternoon, four-under through his 12 holes. Just a little unlucky coming in with a tough lie, even in the fairway, on a couple holes.
"His play was so good through the bag though," Kubinski added. "I also love how he just gets on with things. Good break or bad his disposition never changes."
Freshman Matt Rushton began his opening round with a birdie at the par 5 14th hole to quickly move to one-under. Following three bogeys as he shifted to the front nine, Rushton answered with birdies at the 382-yard second and the 383-yard fourth holes as part of an even par 35 on the first nine. Rushton closed his first round with back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th holes for a one-over-par 72.
Rushton added a pair of birdies during his second round, posting a second straight round of 72 to tie for 16th place at 144 (72-72, +2).
Junior Patrick Grahek closed with an afternoon round of two-over 73 to claim a tie for 52nd place at 149 (76-73). Freshman Liam Cox birdied two of his final five holes on day one during a one-under-par 70, leaving him tied for 60th place after the first 36 holes (80-70-150). Sophomore Cory Sciupider checked in tied for 85th place (77-80-157).
"Both of our freshmen did some great things today," Kubinski said. "Matt was rock solid all day. He gave himself plenty of chances too. I believe he averaged around 14 greens hit per round.
"Liam struggled this morning but that's what made this afternoon such a great round." Kubinski said. "I'm proud of the heart he showed. Young players can't always turn around a high score on the fly, the afternoon round of a 36-hole day. Liam showed us all something today, just a great effort."
No. 50 North Florida (291-279) and No. 47 Georgia State (288-282) each claimed a share of the tournament lead at 570 (+2), with tournament co-host Charlotte only one shot behind in third place (287-284-571). Duke (291-286-577) checked in at fourth place, with Ohio State (298-281-579) rounding out the top five.
"We're only 10 shots off the lead, even with a couple loose rounds this morning," Kubinski said. "I'd love to see our guys come out tomorrow with great focus and patience, a strong mental game. It'd be fun to see our team score with all five playing solidly. We can do that."
The Irish are scheduled to begin their third and final round at the Irish Creek Collegiate on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. (ET) at The Club at Irish Creek.