Taking It to the Green
Teenagers Jack Perry and Niall Platt Pair Up for the 50th Annual S.B. Classic Golf Tournament
Jack Perry carried a putter into the café at the Santa Barbara Golf Club. As he stood in line waiting to order lunch, he lowered the club and practiced his stroke. “The mental aspect and putting are what make the difference on the pro tour,” he said. “You’re always learning,” observed Niall Platt.
Perry and Platt are two of the most accomplished teenaged golfers to come out of Santa Barbara. They will be entering college this fall on athletic scholarships—Perry at Northwestern and Platt at Notre Dame. Before making that leap, they will team up at the 50th annual Santa Barbara Classic, a two-man better-ball tournament on Fiesta weekend, August 7-8.
Perry ended his prep career at Santa Barbara High with a bang. The Dons won the State Championship last month at the Santa Maria Country Club, as both he and teammate Shane Lebow, who’s headed for Stanford, carded low scores of 68. “It was our last chance, and we really got pumped up,” Perry said. “Santa Barbara High had never won a state title in any sport.”
Two weeks ago, Perry went up another competitive notch in the 111th Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) Amateur Championship at La Cumbre Country Club. He finished second, two strokes behind 22-year-old Scott Travers, with a 14-under-par score of 270 (66-67-67-70). It equaled the tournament record set by Tiger Woods in 1994. Travers, a West Coast Conference MVP from Santa Clara University, set a new record of 268 (68-65-66-69). Platt, who recently graduated from Laguna Blanca School, tied for 11th at 8-under-par 280.
Perry managed to make it close in the final round despite two double-bogeys. “The way you react to adversity is the biggest part of the game,” he said. His favorite pro is Retief Goosen. “He’s really calm and probably the best ball striker on the tour,” Perry said.
Platt said he’s partial to Rickie Fowler “because he’s young. He was still in high school (Murietta Valley) when I was a freshman.” Fowler, 21, showed the resilience of youth at the British Open last week, as he rebounded from an opening-round 79 with three straight sub-par rounds to finish tied for 14th. Another young sensation, Rory McIlroy, famously recorded scores of 63-80-69-68 to finish third.
Perry’s 18th birthday last month made him eligible to compete in the Santa Barbara Classic. He and Platt will be taking on some grizzled veterans—most notably 11-time winners Steve Lass and John Pate. “We plan on winning it,” Perry declared.
Lass and Pate, friends since their college days at UCSB 30 years ago, used to be so dominant that a gambler would bet on them against the rest of the field. They last won the classic in a playoff in 2007. “The key is making a lot of putts, which none of us can do any more,” Pate said. “A lot of years of missing them have caught up with us.”
Lass, the UCSB coach, favors the team of Kevin Marsh and George Downing over the youngsters. “There are nuances to playing better-ball that kids may not get,” he said.
Nevertheless, the future is bright for Perry and Platt. Don Parsons, who schooled both golfers at Twin Lakes in Goleta, said Perry is blessed with physical ability, while Platt knows how to manage his way around a course. “I have them set goals—who do you want to be?” Parsons said. “If they stick to the path, anything is possible.”
MOVING ON: Teddy Warrecker, who instilled pride and a winning attitude (a 102-65 record in the last four years) in SBCC’s baseball program, is leaving his hometown to become a full-time assistant at Cal Poly. “It’s been a dream of mine to coach at the Division 1 level,” Warrecker said. He’ll be joining a mentor, Mustangs head coach Larry Lee, in San Luis Obispo.
FOREHAND COMPLIMENT: Before he became UCSB men’s tennis coach 11 years ago, Marty Davis was a standout player at Cal and on the pro tour. Davis will be inducted into the USTA Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame at Stanford on July 29.
GAMES OF THE WEEK: The Santa Barbara Foresters have ridden a 12-game winning streak to a two-and-a-half-game lead over the San Luis Obispo Blues in the California Collegiate League baseball standings. The Foresters and Blues will square off in a three-game series (Fri. and Sat. at 5pm, Sun. at 2pm) that may decide the pennant at UCSB’s Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.