Sept. 9, 2013
INDEPENDENCE, Minn. - Senior captain Niall Platt showed why he is one of the most consistent players in University of Notre Dame men's golf history Monday, turning in a masterful three-under par 68 to vault into a tie for sixth place (71-71-68, 210) during the final round of the Gopher Invitational at the Windsong Farm Golf Club.
Platt birdied seven holes during the round, extending his overall count to a team-high 12 for the two-day tournament. Freshman Matt Rushton capped off his solid Notre Dame debut with a final round one-under par 70 (67-73-70, 210) to join Platt in sixth place.
The Irish improved by three strokes from the second round to place seventh overall with a team score of 870 (289-292-289).
"It was fun to watch both Niall and Matt play so well," Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. "Niall made seven birdies today, which was phenomenal, and his only real hiccup was on the sixth hole, after a good drive. He certainly hit the ball well."
After opening with three straight birdies on holes 10 through 12, Platt dropped his first shot of the day at the par-4 13th before surrendering a pair with a double bogey at the aforementioned 457-yard 15th hole to drop back to even par for the round. The Santa Barbara, Calif., native closed his outward nine with birdies at numbers 17 and 18 to make the turn in 34 (-2).
A pair of birdies at the third and eighth holes offset one bogey on the side to complete Platt's three-under effort, making him the only Notre Dame player to shoot par or better all three rounds.
"His putting throughout was as good as it gets, and a rival coach told me Niall was the best putter in college golf after walking with him today," Kubinski said. "His confidence is very high, which is most important to me."
Rushton, who held a share of the tournament lead after a brilliant four-under par 67 during Sunday's first round, made a pair of birdies at the par-4 11th and par-3 16th holes on his front nine to begin the day even par (36). Back-to-back birdies at numbers three and four helped the product from Cape Town, South Africa to his final round 70 (-1) and a top 10 in his college debut.
"To see Matt excel through the bag is exciting for us," Kubinski said. "He was so solid, from his attitude and focus to his ball striking and putting. He just seemed so comfortable out there, which allows a player to have great success."
Sophomore Cory Sciupider was the next Notre Dame finisher on the leaderboard, carding a three-round total of 225 (73-75-77, +12) for 43rd place. Freshmen Liam Cox (78-73-75-226, 44th place) and Blake Barens (83-75-76-234, T57th place) rounded out the Irish entrants in the field.
Kent State's Corey Conners carded his second straight round in the 60s, birdieing four holes on the front nine and needing a final birdie at the 54th hole to finish with a three-under 69 (71-66-69-206, -7) and win by one shot over California's Brandon Hagy (70-69-68-207, -6). New Mexico's Gavin Green helped lead his squad to a six-shot team victory at 848 (280-285-283, -4) with a three-round score of 68-70-70-208, -5 (third place).
Notre Dame returns to action Sept. 23-24 at the eighth annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic at the Warren Golf Course. Live results will be available both tournament days at UND.com.
"From a team standpoint, we needed a better third and fourth score but I know we'll get those," Kubinski said. "I have great confidence in Blake and Liam as well. They played young this weekend but will grow and give us strong play moving forward."
Gopher Invitational-Windsong Farm Golf Club-Par-71, 7,152 Yds.
TOP-10 TEAMS (Final): 1. New Mexico 280-285-283-848, -4; 2. Baylor 278-295-281-854, +2; 3. Kent State 289-279-289-857, +5; 4. California 291-281-287-859, +7; T5. Iowa State 295-281-289-865, +13; T5. Minnesota 291-287-287-865, +13; 7. Notre Dame 289-292-289-870, +18; 8. Penn State 292-289-294-875, +23; 9. Central Arkansas 306-296-287-889, +37; 10. Michigan State 305-294-295-894, +42.
TOP-10 INDIVIDUALS (Final): 1. Corey Connors (Kent State) 71-66-69-206, -7; 2. Brandon Hagy (California) 70-69-68-207, -6; 3. Gavin Green (New Mexico) 68-70-70-208, -5; T4. Pep Angles (Central Arkansas) 72-70-67-209, -4; T4. Jerry Ruiz (Baylor) 65-75-69-209, -4; T6. Matt Rushton (Notre Dame) 67-73-70-210, -3; T6. Niall Platt (Notre Dame) 71-71-68-210, -3; T8. Sam Daley (Iowa State) 72-70-70-212, -1; T8. Nick Voke (Iowa State) 70-67-75-212, -1; T10. JD Dornes (Penn State) 69-72-73-214, +1; T10. Kyle Jones (Baylor) 67-74-73-214, +1; T10. Tyler Lowenstein (Minnesota) 72-72-70-214, +1.
NOTRE DAME INDIVIDUALS (Final): T6. Matt Rushton 67-73-70-210, -3; T6. Niall Platt 71-71-68-210, -3; 43. Cory Sciupider 73-75-77-225, +12; 44. Liam Cox 78-73-75-226, +13; T57. Blake Barens 83-75-76-234, +21.
-- Tony Jones, Athletic Media Relations Assistant