Final tournament of fall provides redemption shot
As the Rutgers women’s golf team travels to Greenwood, Ind., for the Hoosier Fall Invitational tomorrow and Sunday, the team’s emotions vary.
While the anticipation to play another Big Ten tournament excites the Scarlet Knights, some players feel it is an opportune time to gain redemption.
In their last Big Ten contest, the Knights finished last place Sept. 29 at the Penn State Invitational. It was a result sophomore Jackie Mullens said does not reflect the talent of the team.
“I think that Penn State was a learning curve for us and we’re definitely going to have to prove ourselves this weekend,” Mullens said. “I think this a great venue for us to show that we are good players.”
Mullens carries confidence into the weekend after finishing tied for eighth Tuesday at the Rutgers Invitational.
But the Brookside, N.J., native remains levelheaded.
“I am definitely feeling good going into this tournament, but golf is a sport where anything can happen,” Mullens said. “I’m just going in there knowing I’ve been playing well this past week and just going to hope for the best.”
With Penn State lingering in the back of Rutgers’ minds, head coach Maura Ballard’s new coaching philosophy called Vision 54 will be put to the test. The program focuses on preparing players for all the mental challenges golf presents on and off the course.
It worked for the Knights during the second round of their home invitational.
After shooting 326 in their first round, the team responded by carding 309 the second day, with four Knights improving from their opening-round scores.
Ballard believes the new principles can accelerate the team’s growth and help them mentally overcome its last place finish.
“We should be familiar with the level of competition that we are going to see at Indiana,” Ballard said. “So we’re excited, we’re ready for it and ready to surprise some teams.”
The weekend will conclude tournament play for the Knights until March, giving players a time to rest and improve their skills.
For freshman Maddy Gedeon, the break will also allow time to adjust toward the demanding travel schedule of a college athlete.
“It’s been difficult,” Gedeon said. “This is my first semester, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but in the spring I think I will be more prepared. It’s definitely been a learning experience but a fun experience.”
With the fall season closing, a strong result could provide the team some valuable momentum entering the spring, which Ballard believes would be a perfect scenario.
“If they can all be stars this weekend at the same time, then I think we’re going to do great things out there,” Ballard said. “I think we’re definitely going to end on a high note.”
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