Senior Niall Platt is one of three team captains on this season's Notre Dame team

Men's Golf Ready To Play In The Gopher State

Sep 7, 2013

Round 1 Tee Times Get Acrobat Reader

Round 2 Tee Times Get Acrobat Reader

2013 Gopher Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota, Sept. 8-9, Windsong Farm Golf Club, Independence, Minn.

Windsong Farm Golf Club was designed by 1996 Open Championship winner Tom Lehman and accomplished architect John Fought. The par-71, 7,152-yard track hosted the 2010 Big Ten Championships, and welcomes the Gopher Invitational for the first time from its traditional home at the Spring Hill Golf Club (Wayzata, Minn.)

“Coach (Scott) Gump found a really great web site that gave us a visual tour of the golf course, which is fairly new. One of our former players, Scott Gustafson, who graduated in 2006 and is from the Minneapolis area, called and said that we would really like playing the course. It’s actually a fairly long course and is described as a links layout, although I saw some ponds and so forth. I think the ball will be running a little bit, so that type of game, driving it well like I believe our team will do this year, could work to our advantage.”

The 54-hole stroke play tournament begins with an initial wave of tee times off both the front and back nine Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Players will complete two 18-hole rounds on day one before finishing with a final 18 holes on Monday.

A total of 12 teams will compete at the Gopher Invitational, with host Minnesota being the only team to field individual entrants separate from the five-count-four scoring format. Joining Minnesota and Notre Dame in the tournament is Baylor, California, Central Arkansas, Iowa State, Kent State, Michigan State, New Mexico, Penn State, St. John’s (Minn.) and Toledo.

The Notre Dame starting five are senior Niall Platt, freshman Matthew Rushton, freshman Blake Barens, freshman Liam Cox and sophomore Cory Sciupider.

Results will be posted on the UND Athletic Department Web site ( at the conclusion of each round. Live results will be available through

Notre Dame will host the eighth annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic on Sept. 23-24 at the Warren Golf Course.

Notre Dame Led By Strong Senior Class
Three Irish seniors are as different as they are the same

By Staci Gasser

Andrew Lane is the tallest of the three, standing 6-2, and is known as the jokester of the team. The Fairport, N.Y. native, brings a competitive edge but never fails to be the comic relief when things get too serious.

A finance major in the Mendoza College of Business, Lane finished with a 74.62 stroke average a year ago, improving by more than a full shot from his sophomore season average. His fall clip of 73.27 was second best on the team, and he consistently finished among the top three Notre Dame players in every tournament last year.

Niall Platt, the quiet one from Santa Barbara, Calif., has played himself into the top spot in the Irish lineup and has established himself as the leader golf-wise, according to his teammates. He led Notre Dame with a 73.41 stroke average and recorded the second-lowest 54-hole score in Irish NCAA Championship history with a 210 (-6) score at the 2011 NCAA Southeast Regional. He owns the second-lowest career stroke average with his mark of 73.55 and was been named to the all-BIG EAST team three consecutive years. Platt is enrolled in the College of Science, majoring in applied and computational mathematics and statistics.

Andrew Carreon of San Antonio, Texas, has earned the nice guy title. The accounting major not only holds a leadership position on the golf team, but also a head role on the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council. He finished last season with a 73.83 stroke average, third-best on the team in limited rounds played.

While each have their own personalities and interests, all three were introduced into golf by their fathers, chose Notre Dame for both the academics and athletic tradition and are firm contenders on the course.

The three young men compliment each other as a strong leadership unit that has earned them this year’s team captain designation, as nominated by their teammates.

“The opportunity to be a captain this year is interesting to me because all three are fantastic guys that have done well in the classroom and on the course,” Notre Dame head coach Jim Kubinski says. “The role of a captain requires several attributes, several characteristics of your personality, and I think each of these guys has one area that they can grow into as a captain. It’s an exciting collective group of guys, and they will really serve our team well.”

The players each have the ability of balancing a Division I golf schedule and a Notre Dame education, but it doesn’t come easy.

“You just try to balance it out,” Platt says. “Coach always says between a social life, golf and academics, we can only have two.”

“There are a lot of resources for us, too,” Lane says. “I know I’ve taken advantage of tutors a lot and that has really helped. It stinks though, getting home from golf at 8:00 at night, but you just have to do your work every night and stay on top of things.”

Being a Notre Dame golfer means being up 6 a.m. for workouts, eating breakfast at 7:30, being in class from 9:30 to 1:45 p.m. and grabbing a quick lunch before heading to the course to be ready to play by 2:30. If the team worked out that morning, then it’s a practice day, which could involve mental preparation and golf course analysis. If there was no workout, the teams play a full round. Once a day’s work on the course is finished, it’s time to eat dinner as team, go home and study.

Now, it will be even tougher since the program has switched to the more competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.

“[The move] is good for our program in general,” Lane says. “It’s better competition, and we’re going to be forced to elevate our game. It will also give us an edge in our recruiting.”

The team had what the captains deemed as a disappointing season in 2012-13 after placing third in the BIG EAST Championship, ending its chances of an NCAA tournament bid.

This year, the goal is to make it back to the NCAAs, a summit the Irish have reached six times in the past nine seasons. And as leaders, the senior trio will be the ones who need to push their teammates to make that a reality.

“We have a lot more talent than we’ve shown so I want us to push ourselves and get the most out of our team,” Lane says.

The players also know with the title comes the responsibility of guiding the team and knowing what it takes to make the team successful.

“It’s a little different in our sport because it’s not a team sport, it’s more of an individual sport,” Carreon says. “As far as guidance goes, it can mean different things for different people. It’s not necessarily coming together as a team, it’s more thinking of where an individual player is at and what he needs to achieve.

“One thing that has brought me the most joy in being part of this team is taking players under my wing over the years, from asking advice to giving advice, not just in golf but in other aspects (of life).”

Notre Dame Head Coach Jim Kubinski

Challenges of a short preparation time from the start of school until the first tournament

“I jokingly say that the one positive is, I don’t have time to mess the guys up, or mess up their games, because we left for the first tournament so quickly. The one group of players that you worry about most with the schedule is the freshmen. Sometimes they don’t know the local courses well enough yet to try to qualify for roster spots, but they were all able to come in early on their own dime and play Blackthorn Country Club and our Warren and got a good feel for those courses going in. Coming off the summer, everyone has a good feel that, when you have those delays and you wait two, three weeks for the first tournament that can be an issue, too. I really like the way our schedule is set up.”

The importance of a fast start at the Gopher Invitational

“The top six players in our qualifying separated from the next six players on our team, and the first six played the most tournament rounds over the summer, picked up the most experience. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’re putting themselves in that position. As we move forward with our schedule, we want to say that we got off to a nice solid start, and are feeling good about where we are as a team. Heading into our home tournament, we want to gain some momentum before heading back out on the road and playing some great teams. Last season we had so many new players in the lineup because of the graduation losses that we didn’t really know who we were in the fall. It wasn’t even until the very end that guys were comfortable playing in these tournaments and representing Notre Dame. It was great to see but I think they will feed on that going into this year.”

Qualifying for the season’s first tournament

“We are doing a qualifying system this year that’s a little bit different than in the past. We won’t rely on any coaches’ picks. We are going to let the guys qualify for all five spots. The only caveat is that players who have won a tournament in the past will be given three exemptions for the year, which is Niall (Platt) and Cory (Sciupider), so if they don’t come through qualifying they could use an exemption to play. Cory will be using one of his this week, but I have no worry or issue about him, just a couple of swing here and there, I think he’s going to be ready. Niall led the qualifying results at seven under par, and the three freshmen (Blake Barens, Liam Cox and Matthew Rushton) were all in the top five mix and also will be playing this weekend. It’s a little unusual with all that is thrown at freshmen, especially here at Notre Dame with the academic responsibilities and getting to know a new school and those sorts of things. They are really a great group.”