July 19, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers returns to action at Collation River Collegiate

Perfect practice leads to superb results.

The Rutgers men’s golf team spent long hours in the bubble during the winter striving to master the goal that every golfer wishes to achieve: perfection. Every shot, every stroke and every putt must be struck with near impeccable precision and accuracy.

A golfer must have sound mechanics and more importantly remain level-headed at all times in order to perform in a superior fashion. Without careful timing and skill, a ball could be shot into the rough, a bunker or even off of the course entirely.

The team mainly worked on its putting, chipping and hitting the ball out of different lies. The golfers also utilized golf simulators to practice driving and to hit shots farther.

Rob Shutte, the head coach of the Scarlet Knights, knows that working on all of these aspects will prepare his team for the ups and downs of the game and be ready to face Big Ten competition.

“Well, we practiced in the bubble,” Shutte said. “In the bubble, we obviously are doing a lot of things with the short game, you know, trying to have touch and do a lot of the shots you probably wouldn’t hit while you’re outside. We were inside the simulators as well, so we were just trying to take advantage of the data we were able to get from the simulators and work on our long game through data and stuff like that.”

Jacob Stockl is looking to cap off his Rutgers career with a bang. He has competed in over 25 events throughout his time in Piscataway and is the lone senior on the team.

Stockl performed well in the Knights’ previous outing this spring. He earned two wins and a draw during Big Ten matchplay on February 15th and 16th to help Rutgers beat Nebraska and tie Penn State. Stockl was awarded Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors during the fall season. 

Practicing in the bubble during the offseason helped immensely improve his game.

“There’s a lot that’s been working well,” Stockl said. “We’ve been practicing in the bubble a lot, simulating different lies, uphill, downhill and all different types of lies we can see on the course, so there’s no stone unturned when we compete. I feel like that went a long way for us in our first tournament in the Big Ten match play with our chipping. We had good feel, some people need a little more work than others but, I feel like we’re making progress in the right direction."

Being the only senior on the team, Stockl should be able to provide his fellow golfers with good advice and leadership due to his experience.

“You’re always looking to people who have been around the program the longest to be leaders,” said Shutte. “And after that you obviously go down the line, whose personalities match up and stuff like that. Right now, we’ve got one senior so he’s got a lot of experience and is kind of our primary guy that we’re looking to.”

For its next outing, Rutgers will play at the Colleton River Collegiate tournament in Bluffton, South Carolina, on Monday and Tuesday. Hosting the competition will be the Colleton River Plantation Club. The Club is located on the banks of the Colleton River and is one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the country.

The Colleton River Plantation Club contains two golf courses, both of which are championship quality. The first course was designed by arguably the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus, in 1991 while the second was created by Pete Dye in 1998. One must shoot a 72 to make par on both the Dye Course and Nicklaus Course.

The Knights competed in the Colleton River Collegiate last season on Pete Dye’s course with eight other schools. Rutgers recorded a team total of 902 to finish in fourth place. As a team, the Knights shot a 302 in the first round, a 297 in the second round, and a 303 in the third round.

Rutgers conjured 164 pars and 30 birdies in the tournament. The Knights shot poorly on both the par three and par four events as a team with a plus 24 and a plus 35 respectively. The team improved on the par five by shooting five over par.

Two Rutgers golfers finished in the top 20, Stockl and then sophomore Jonathan Chang.

Stockl shot a first round 73, a 74 in the second round and a 74 in the third round for a ninth place finish. He compiled a 221 individual total. 

The then-junior shot a plus-three in both par three and par four competition. Stockl shot one under in the par five and had the third most birdies in the tournament with 11.

Now a junior, Chang finished in a six-way tie for 20th. He shot a first round 74, a second round 74 and a third round 77 for a 225 total score. Chang hit the mark for par 28 times and also had nine birdies. 

He finished at plus-five for both the par three and par four matchups. In the par five event, Chang shot one under.

To be successful in the sport of golf, it is crucial for a player to know the ins and outs of the course. One must be familiar with the locations of each hole and be cognizant of hazards such as rough or bunkers that the holes present.

Because three Knights — Stockl, Chang and sophomore Michael Howe — competed in the Colleton River Collegiate last year, the team should be relatively familiar with how to play the course. Just knowing surroundings can give a golfer a huge confidence boost and help calm nerves during play.

“Yeah, I definitely would say so,” said Stockl. “I mean, last year I played pretty well, I was in contention and I used my scores to help better the team. ... I feel like this year, we can just keep making progress and make it to the next step to get the 'W' or an even better finish than last year.”

For updates on the Rutgers men’s golf team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Evan Bruno

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