March 17, 2014
NAPLES, Fla. – The University of Notre Dame men’s golf team shaved four strokes off its squad score during the afternoon second round, claiming solo third place on Sunday following the opening 36 holes at the Talis Park Challenge at the Talis Park Golf Club. The Irish posted a team total of 594 (299-295) to stand three shots clear of fourth place Austin Peay following the first day of play.
Notre Dame’s 16 total birdies in the second round tied Vanderbilt for the lead over all teams in the field during the afternoon wave. The Irish were the eighth-most prolific birdie team (nine) during the first round.
Senior tri-captain Niall Platt answered a morning 18 of two-over 74 by climbing into the tournament’s top 10 players in the afternoon. Platt made a total of six birdies, including four on his back nine two-under-par 34, to card a Sunday cumulative score of 144 (74-70, E) and place in a tie for fifth place. The Santa Barbara, Calif. native enters Monday’s final round a mere three shots off the pace set by Vanderbilt’s Charlie Ewing (71-70-141, -3).
“We saw a little fire from Niall today and a lot of birdies,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski said. “I think he just reached a point in the first round where he said enough is enough. He knows he can score. He showed great determination coming in.”
Junior Patrick Grahek showed great scoring skill on the four Talis Park Golf Club par 5s in his opening 36 holes, playing the collection in a cumulative five-under over his first two tournament rounds with six birdies. Grahek joined Platt in the top 10, tying for eighth place after carding a two-over-par 146 (74-72).
“It was great to see Patrick continue his solid play,” Kubinski said. “His scores in San Diego weren’t indicative of his recent play, a lot of that due to illness. He is hitting the ball beautifully, which you had to do to score at all in the high wind today. Patrick is gaining confidence each week.
“Both players did a great job carrying our team and also put themselves into contending position individually as well.”
Sophomore Cory Sciupider added six birdies over his first two rounds, posting a total of seven-over 151 (76-75) to tie for 23rd place. Junior Tyler Wingo (75-78-153) and freshman Blake Barens (78-81-159) rounded out the Notre Dame lineup tied for 32nd and 52nd place, respectively.
“Tyler and Cory both hit the ball as well as ever today but just lost too many around the greens,” Kubinski said. “They’ll tighten that up tomorrow. I like how they’re showing signs of growth, in terms of maturity, in this game. They can put a few tough breaks behind them and come back out strong.”
Vanderbilt was the only one of the 14 teams in the tournament field to break par after day one, firing scores of 283 and 289 to open with a 20-stroke lead at four-under-par (283-289-572). Wichita State claimed the runner-up position at 592 (288-304), followed by Notre Dame, Austin Peay (292-305-597) and Florida Gulf Coast (301-297-598) in the event top five.
The Irish are scheduled to begin their third and final round at the Talis Park Challenge on Monday at 8:30 a.m. (ET) under a shotgun start.