Bio of English Golfer Lionel Platts

Lionel Platts was an English professional golfer who won tournaments in the 1960s and 1970s. Twice he finished in the Top 10 of the Order of Merit, and once he earned a place on the British Ryder Cup team. Platts was also known as a great money-match player who thrived in match play.

Date of birth: October 10, 1934

Place of birth: Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

Date of death: May 23, 2021

His Biggest Wins

Platts' biggest wins happened on the British PGA circuit and European circuit that predated today's European Tour. He had four such wins:
  • 1963 Sunningdale Foursomes (with David Snell)
  • 1964 Braemar Seven-club Tournament
  • 1971 Portuguese Open
  • 1972 Scottish Uniroyal Tournament
Platts also, early in his career, won a couple British PGA tournaments open to club assistants: the 1961 PGA Assistants' Tournament and 1961 Gor-Ray Cup. Regional wins by Platts in England included the 1963 East Anglian Open, Wentworth Pro-Am Foursomes in 1969, and the North of England title in 1970 and 1971.

In the Majors

Platts played The Masters once, but otherwise only played in the British Open. His first appearance was in the 1961 Open, his last in the 1977 Open. He had no Top 10 finishes, but did place in the Top 25 four times. Platts' best finish was tied for 12th in the 1965 Open. He led the 1967 British Open with a first-round 68 and finished 13th that year.

More About Lionel Platts

Lionel Platts, Peter Alliss once wrote, "was perhaps at his best in match play ... He relished the psychological ploys of match play." One of Platts' "ploys," to prevent an opponent from learning anything based on the club Platts pulled from his bag, was to play matches using a set of irons all stamped "7."

He drew notice early in his career through his reputation as one of the top money-match players in Yorkshire. And he led the stroke-play qualifying for the News of the World Match Play (aka British Professional Match Play Championship) three years running beginning in 1959.

After winning the East Anglian Open and Sunningdale Foursomes in 1963, Platts' first really big win was in the 1964 Braemar Seven-club Tournament. Golfers were, as the name of the tournament states, limited to only seven golf clubs (half the normal complement). It sounds gimmicky, but it got attention: the New York Times reported on Platts' win. Platts finished at 4-over 288, playing only with his driver, his 4-, 6-, 7- and 9-irons, plus a wedge and putter.

Platts placed seventh on British PGA Order of Merit in both 1964 and 1965, and on the Team Great Britain & Ireland Ryder Cup points list was sixth, earning a place in the 1965 Ryder Cup.

Platts and Peter Butler were partners in three foursomes matches. In the first, they lost 1-down to the Team USA squad of Julius Boros and Tony Lema. In the other two, they halved twice with Billy Casper/Gene Littler. In one of the latter two matches, Platts/Butler held a 4-up lead with four holes to play, but Casper/Littler won all four of those holes to pull out the half-point.

In two singles matches, Platts split: He lost, 4 and 2, to Boros; then defeated Tommy Jacobs, 1-up.

Platts' biggest success after the Ryder Cup was winning a national open in 1971 — the Portuguese Open.

The inaugural season of today's European Tour was 1972, and Platts' play was already past its peak. He did have several full seasons of play in those first few years, with a best finish on the Order of Merit of 42nd in Year 1, 1972. Platts' win in the 1972 Scottish Uniroyal Tournament, three strokes ahead of runner-up Peter Oosterhuis, is not counted as a European Tour victory because the tournament purse was too small.

While Platts didn't record a lot of wins, he came close multiple times in some notable tournaments of the era. He was runner-up in the British PGA Championship in 1964, and later that year in the Martini International.

In 1965, Platts twice lost in playoffs: to Angel Miguel in the Swallow-Penfold Tournament; and, on the sixth sudden-death hole, to Bernard Hunt in the Gallaher Ulster Open. In the 1965 News of the World Match Play, Platts advanced through the bracket by winning four matches in extra holes. He got all the way to the championship match, and into extra holes again, before falling to Neil Coles.

Platts made a handful of starts on the European Seniors Tour between 1992 and 2006, with no Top 10 finishes. He did sneak just inside the Top 50 (49th) on the Order of Merit, though, in 1993.

Throughout his playing career, Platts also worked as a pro at English clubs. Those clubs included Thorndon Park Golf Club (first as assistant pro and then head pro) in Brentwood, and Wanstead Golf Club. From 1975 through 1993, Platts was head pro at Three Rivers Golf and Country Club near Chelmsford, England.

Platts' son Chris was also a pro golfer. He posted one victory on the European Challenge Tour in the early 1990s after having won the 1988 Kenya Open (Safari Tour).

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