Two tournament wins highlight strong season
With the fall season over, the Rutgers men’s golf team enters the offseason feeling accomplished in its progress.
The Scarlet Knights won their first tournament since 2009, winning Sept. 24 at the Hartford Hawks Invitational. They also capped the season Monday by capturing the Lehigh Invitational.
The Knights competed in both tournaments last year but fell short of their goals. This year, the talent finally met its potential.
“Last year I think we came in second twice so we kind of knew we had the potential. It was just a matter of getting all four and five guys to get on track the whole tournament,” said senior co-captain Jonathan Renza. “In previous tournaments we had four play well one round and maybe only three in the next, instead of four or five all the time. So we didn’t really have to change much. It was just a different attitude going into the last day.”
That demeanor shift resulted in one of the Knights’ most successful fall seasons in recent memory.
Rutgers became a team that consistently performs better round to round. It also successfully integrated freshmen into its lineup for vital experience without jeopardizing the team’s performance.
Head coach Rob Shutte cannot complain with the results.
“I’m not going to say it’s the greatest fall season of all time, but at the same time as a coach I am happy with what I have seen,” Shutte said. “I think it’s a perfect scenario. We get two wins, get a lot of experience for a lot of guys and got a lot of freshmen in the rotation.”
Shutte also praised the more experienced golfers for their important play throughout the season.
Junior Jacob Stockl began the season Sept. 14 by winning the Rutgers Invitational. Senior captain Doug Walters recorded several top-three performances, including his first-career tournament win at Lehigh. Sophomore Jonathan Chang finished among the top-20 competitors in four of the five fall events.
Their strong performances allowed freshmen Michael Howe, Chase Wheatley and Ryan Rose to play in the rotation.
“The growth is about the freshmen and sophomores. We were able to get some tournament experience for all of them,” Shutte said. “[We] gave them a couple opportunities, so it’s really going to be about them if you want to see how we’re going to grow and get better. We want the positive energy from our upperclassmen to rub off on the freshmen and sophomores.”
The Knights enter the offseason preparing to hit the golf course as much as possible before snow arrives.
The team also looks to stay fit in the weight room, focusing on core strength and improving mental toughness. The Knights have an indoor simulator so they can maintain their muscle memory during the winter.
For Renza, Walters and senior Dillon Corbo, the offseason will be their last with the program.
While Walters has proven to be a mainstay in the lineup, he takes nothing for granted.
“I don’t want to really get too caught up in it personally because nothing is guaranteed,” Walters said.