Knights carry success into weekend invites
The Rutgers men’s golf team travels to Madison, Wis., tomorrow for the Badger Invitational following their first tournament victory since 2009.
The Rutgers women’s golf team travels to State College, Pa., today for the Penn State Invitational, hoping to carry on their success from last tournament.
The men captured the Hartford Invitational on Sept. 24, outplaying the 17-team field. While some teams may get complacent after a big win, head coach Rob Shutte believes winning will only serve as more motivation.
“These guys are athletes. They want to win whether it’s playing ping pong, whether it’s playing chess or whether it’s playing golf,” Shutte said. “Winning’s only going to be something that hopefully fuels them more.”
After winning in Hartford, the Scarlet Knights’ ranking dropped to 79 on golfstat.com, cracking the top 100 after starting the season ranked 244.
“Personally, that’s the first time that I’ve seen our program in the top 100,” said senior Doug Walters. “It’s still early yet there are still plenty of tournaments … but that’s what it’s all about — getting that ranking and seeing the results and hard work pay off.”
Walters finished tied for second at the Invitational, carding a four-under par of 212, and mentioned that key changes in his game have helped him start the new season strong.
“I think in years past comparing to this year, I’ve seen a big improvement in my ball striking,” Walters said. “I’m giving myself more chances for birdies and not putting myself in situations where I have to grind out a par or grind out a number that really isn’t ideal.”
Sophomore Jonathan Chang is also hoping to carry his success into Wisconsin. Chang has finished among the top 15 in both tournaments so far and thinks minor improvements can help him crack the top 10.
“For me, probably just staying in the moment and not getting to ahead of myself probably would be the biggest thing,” Chang said. “I just need to play golf and not worry about how anyone else is doing.”
The Knights will also start senior Jonathan Renza, freshman Michael Howe and freshman Ryan Rose. It will be Rose’s first collegiate event and despite the inexperience, he has total confidence from his teammates.
“He is nothing short of talented,” Walters said. “We fully believe in him and we let him know that he’s in the lineup for a reason and we think we can win with him in.”
On the women’s end, the Knights tied for sixth Sunday at the 17-team Yale Intercollegiate in New Haven, Conn., giving them a rise in confidence as they enter the weekend.
One player gaining confidence is sophomore Samantha Moyal, whose performance at Yale led the team and earned her a 16th-place finish in the 91-player field.
Moyal looks to build off her strong third round, where she scored even par (71), marking the second-best round of the day on a difficult course.
“Coming off Yale, it’s given me so much confidence,” Moyal said. “It reflects in my practice, it’s reflected in the gym and it’s actually even reflected in my school work. I have a lot to feel good about coming into this weekend.”
Sophomore Gabrielle Sacheli is also confident entering the weekend, despite still recovering from being sick.
Sacheli led the team the first two days at Yale, but woke up the third day not feeling well, causing her play to suffer as a result.
“I think I need to just get past that last round and know that I wasn’t feeling my best and that I wasn’t the type of player that I am,” Sacheli said. “I think once I get out there in the first round or even in the practice round and am aware of how I’m hitting the ball and how my swing is feeling, I’ll get over that and I’ll be OK.”
The Pittsford, N.Y., native also feels the invitational will provide a good opportunity for the Knights to leave a lasting impression on their new conference.
“We are going into the Big Ten, and this is a very big tournament, and doing well would be a big thing for a lot of schools, but especially for us because a lot of people have higher expectations now that we are switching into another conference,” Sacheli said. “I think it would really put Rutgers on the map.”
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