Knights finish fall with 12-team event
In its final tournament test of the fall season, the Rutgers women’s golf team travels to Greenville, S.C., this weekend for the Furman Lady Paladin Invitational, where the program has not competed in more than three years.
The Scarlet Knights are up against 12 non-conference teams along the East Coast, notably a familiar foe in Nova Southeastern, which won the Yale Women’s Intercollegiate — arguably Rutgers’ most difficult event so far.
With four tournaments under their belts, including three on the road, the Knights feel prepared for a three-day challenge to culminate their hard work throughout the season.
“I think the field is going to be a little bit stronger than what we’ve been up against so far, and we’re very much looking forward to that,” said head coach Maura Waters-Ballard. “I think that all the hard work we’ve put in this fall is starting to pay off, and I think we’re going to have a really great event. The girls are really looking forward to it.”
Since capturing fourth place at the Lehigh Invitational last weekend, the team has focused on its mental and short games, areas the Knights feel they can still improve.
“Towards the end of the season, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all really about short game,” said sophomore Kortnie Maxoutopoulis. “We made sure we had a really good mental game session this week where we realized how important short game is. Golf is so focused on long game, hitting it far, but it really comes down to how you can get the ball in the hole.”
The invite at Furman is only the team’s second three-day tournament of the season, with the other coming at Yale. During the event in New Haven, Conn., the Knights posted a 317 scorecard on the third day, their worst round of the season.
But with more experience and improved mental stability, the Knights relish another chance to grind out a three-day event.
“I’m looking forward to the three days, and so are [the golfers],” Waters-Ballard said, “because each day we can talk about what we did out there and improve for the next day.”
Rutgers also dealt with notably windy conditions at Yale, something it does not anticipate at the Furman University Golf Course.
“I really don’t think [at Yale] there was any lack of focus,” Maxoutopoulis said. “I think it’s just when you’re playing a three-day tournament, there’s a lot to account for. But I think going [into Furman], we’ve been in the gym every few days a week, so there’s really good stability building up there.”
The Knights compete in the first round of 18 today, with the second and third rounds playing out tomorrow and Sunday.
The team looks for a strong finish to a journey that began in Lewisburg, Pa., nearly two months ago.
“We’re looking forward to a strong field where we can compete, hopefully rise to the occasion and just play the best we can,” Maxoutopoulis said. “There will be different greens, too, so it’ll be a little bit of an adjustment, but nothing we can’t handle going in.”