The 5th annual SCGA Match Play Championship had a taste of a classic football rivalry as Notre Dame’s Niall Platt bested USC’s Stewart Hagestad 2-and-1 in Wednesday’s title round.
Platt, wearing a Notre Dame hat with the Irish shamrock on it, went 2-up on the 15th hole and clinched the victory on the 17th green.
“I hit the ball great all week,” Platt said. “It took a lot of pressure off, not having to get the ball up and down all the time.”
Both Platt and Hagestad won semifinal rounds earlier in the morning on Wednesday. Platt topped Ronnald Monaco 5-and-3, while Hagestad had to go one hole farther to defeat Brandon Gama 3-and-2.
Platt never trailed against Hagestad, starting off with an eagle on the first hole. A birdie on the par-5 fifth hole put Platt 2-up and Hagestad didn’t win his first hole until the eighth.
“This is definitely a tournament I’ve always thought about and always dreamed of winning,” Platt said, noting that he played two years ago without advancing through the first round. “I think probably talent-wise in the field, this is probably my biggest win.”
Platt grew up locally in Santa Barbara but said Sandpiper was not a course he played much at all. Platt attended Laguna Blanca High School before going on to become the first-ever Notre Dame golfer to be named Big East Conference Freshman of the Year. This fall will be his third year in South Bend.
The three-day tournament began as a bracket of 32. Monaco upset top-seeded Xander Schauffele in Tuesday’s quarterfinals 1-up. Platt was the tournament’s fifth seed and Hagestad was 14th.
The SCGA Match Play Championship began in 2008 as a means of bringing new credence and incentive to the SCGA points program. The SCGA points program awards points to golfers who give strong performances in SCGA, USGA, CGA and other selected outside tournaments. In 2008, specially created Match Play and Senior Match Play Points Lists were developed. The top 32 players on the Match Play Points List plus the top 16 players on the Senior Match Play Points List earn invitations to compete in this elite SCGA championship.