March 21, 2018 | ° F

Knights retool for future tournament action

After a ninth-place finish at the Princeton Invitational, the Rutgers women’s golf team worked hard to put up a solid effort at its upcoming home tournament.

The Scarlet Knights had plenty of time in between tournaments to work on any aspects of their game that needed addressing.

They are up against 18 teams arriving on the Banks this weekend for the Rutgers Invitational.

The field includes defending champion Fairleigh Dickinson and South Carolina Upstate, which won the men’s invitational in September.

While the Knights cap off more than two weeks worth of practice, they are also taking breaks once in a while to recover.

“We’re just working a lot, practicing a lot, a little relaxing, watching some good football games,” said head coach Maura Waters-Ballard.

But watching Monday Night Football will not get the Knights to the level of play they hope to reach. Now it is time for the Knights to get down to business.

“We’re back in tournament mode now,” Waters-Ballard said. “The last few days we’ve been getting back into it.”

Not only did the players polish their games, but they also paid attention to the course, so they can take full advantage of their home links.

“We know the course really well, so every time we come out we try to think of it as if we’re in the tournament this weekend,” said junior Brittany Weddell. “That’s what we’ve been doing this week.”

They play the course two or three times each week as a team, as well as weekend rounds, she said.

The visiting teams have only one practice round to acclimate to the Rutgers course. But familiarity with the course will not be enough.

The Knights also need to be spot-on with their accuracy for every shot they take on a course still recovering from rain.

“The keys are going to be to keep it in the fairway and to hit greens. That’s our motto: fairways and greens,” Waters-Ballard said. “I think if you just keep it down the middle or at least in the fairway you’ll have a great advantage.”

Heavy rain left the course with very thick rough, which spells trouble for any player who strays from the fairway, she said.

Not only do the Knights have to worry about accuracy and conditions, but they are also up against several strong teams, including Big East schools.

“Seton Hall and St. John’s are here, and they’re pretty good,” Waters-Ballard said. “But I think we can give them a run for their money.”

She is aiming high with her goal, too, hoping the team can take full advantage of playing at Rutgers as well as the extended practice time.

“I’d like to win it obviously, but most definitely top three,” she said.

The Knights are no strangers this year to top-three finishes. They already took home second place at the Bison Invitational, which could play a part this weekend, as well.

“Our first tournament of the year, we came in second place and that really boosted our confidence,” Weddell said. “We’re excited to see what we can do on our home course.”

Knight Note:

The Rutgers men’s golf team took sixth-place out of 16 teams at the Connecticut Cup, with a team score of 895, 13 strokes behind the winner, Sacred Heart. Junior captain John Fagan led the Knights, carding a 224, good enough for twenty-first in the 85-player field. Sophomore Jeff LeFevre, freshman Hyung Mo Kim and senior Doug Walters also finished in the top 30.

By Joey Gregory

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