Golf teams reflect on fall campaign, anticipate spring
The Rutgers women’s golf team entered its fall campaign with a new head coach, no leader and little time to prepare — all of which could have possibly led to a disastrous season.
Athletic Director Julie Hermann hired former Columbia women’s golf coach Kari Williams one month prior to the Scarlet Knights’ season opener.
Unfazed by the untimely events, Williams addressed her expectations effectively to a roster of five juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.
After four fall tournaments, Rutgers was able to exceed all of Williams’ expectations.
“We have had a very successful fall campaign,” Williams said. “I am proud of the team and the progress we have made in a relatively short amount of time.”
With Williams at the helm, the Knights succeeded early at the Bucknell Invitational, finishing second in the 14-team event.
Although a leader had yet to be identified, the Knights’ underclassmen abilities were evident.
Freshman Emily Mills won the 80-player Bucknell Invitational by two strokes while sophomore Taylor Clark paced Rutgers in the Yale Invitational, tying for sixth place and helping the Knights finish in seventh place out of 17 teams.
By the midpoint of the season, Rutgers found its leader at the St. John’s invitational.
After a first round hindered by high winds, the Knights relied on the clubs of junior Gabrielle Sacheli. Sacheli finished sixth overall to pace the team while helping Rutgers battle back from fourth to second place.
Then, at the Rutgers Invitational, Sacheli finished third overall, assisting the Knights to a second-place finish.
Unfortunately for Rutgers, in the season finale at the Fighting Camel Classic, the Knights ended an exciting season with a sixth-place finish and without any player claiming a top-10 finish.
Despite ending its season on a low note, Rutgers exceeded the expectations of many, including Williams.
“We are a young team, and we had a good fall. We played as you might expect a young team to play — some great rounds and some rounds that could have been a lot better,” Williams said. “The players competed hard every tournament, and we have a lot to look forward to in the spring.”
Unlike the women’s team, which relied on strong team efforts, the Rutgers men’s golf team relied on strong individual efforts throughout the season to make up for its lack of consistency.
And junior Jonathan Chang was that guy.
Chang paced the Knights in four out of five tournaments during the fall season, finishing tied for 12th at the Wolverine Intercollegiate, tying for 17th at the Badger Invitational, tying for ninth at the Maryland Invitational and placing second at the Lehigh Invitational.
Senior Jacob Stockl’s play was less impressive. Although he finished second at the Rutgers Invitational to pace the Knights in their host event, he did not play up to his potential, said head coach Rob Shutte.
“He is a very motivated player who won [the] Co-Big Ten Player of the Week honor, but he let the team down when we needed him throughout the course of the season,” Shutte said.
Rutgers struggled in its inaugural season as a Big Ten competitor, placing poorly at conference foes Michigan, Wisconsin and Maryland. The Knights did compete well at the Rutgers and Lehigh Invitational, placing second in both.
Shutte put the fall season into perspective.
“If you look at it this way, we have played nine holes so far [in the fall season], and we are a couple shots over par heading into the final nine holes [in the spring season],” Shutte said.
Entering the spring season, freshman Toks Pedro is a player Shutte believes is very prospective.
“Toks is probably one of the best ball strikers in the Big Ten,” Shutte said. “He played a couple of rounds up to his ability this season. He has all the tools to be great but needs to work on putting and his short game. Learning from teammates will be crucial for him this offseason. Nonetheless, he is probably the most talented player on the team, and the sky is the limit for him.”
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