Rutgers seeks success in Big Ten Championship
The Rutgers women’s golf team will compete for the last time in 2015 this weekend at Indianapolis, Ind., for the Big Ten Championship.
The Scarlet Knights will look to wrap up their first season as a member of the prestigious Big Ten Conference on a high note — with a top finish in its inaugural Big Ten Championship appearance.
Rutgers has been on a 10-day hiatus from tournament play since its last event concluded on April 12. On that Sunday just over a week ago at the River Landing Classic in Wallace, S.C., the Knights secured an eighth place finish.
The team’s highlight of the tournament was the season-low score of 299 it shot in the second round. Rutgers improved in every round of the event and gained ground in the standings on each day.
The Knights were in 11th place after round one, rose to ninth in the second round and moved up to eighth place at the conclusion of the event.
As a unit, Rutgers posted a plus-62, 926 at the River Landing Classic with a first round 315, a second round 299 and a third round 312.
Head coach Kari Williams was especially impressed with junior Christina Paulsen and the improvements she has made in her game from the fall season going into the spring season.
“Christina’s game has really come on strong from looking from the fall to the spring,” Williams said. “(She’s had) a solid spring, posting a lot of really good scores. You know, the kind of scores that you want your No. 3 player to post. Somewhere between 76 and 78 is a good score for us, and we’ve been able to count on her for scores quite a bit this spring. It’s been real nice.”
Paulsen compiled a score of 232, good enough for a tie for 36th place in the individual standings. She shot a plus-16 in the tournament after hitting 78’s in the first two rounds and 76 in the final round.
Junior Racquel Zurick and freshman Emily Mills both had impressive campaigns for the Knights this season and continue to light the way for Rutgers with their consistency on the golf course.
Zurick and Mills both earned ties for 27th place at the River Landing Classic with plus-13, 229 totals. Mills had a 79 in round one followed by a 74 and a 76 in rounds two and three. Zurick shot a 79 in the first round, a 73 in round two and a 77 in on the last day.
The Knights picked up some serious momentum at the River Landing Classic and Williams thought the team had a solid performance at the event.
“I’m pretty happy with where we're headed to going into Big Ten. It’s our low tournament score for a while," the first-year head coach said. "Obviously, their low round was yesterday at 299 for the year. That’s what you want to have happen right before the championship. We expect to play better and putting in solid performances from people."
Rutgers will begin play at the Big Ten Championships on Friday and into Sunday at the Fort Golf Resort in Indianapolis. The Fort Golf Resort is listed as one of the top public golf courses in the state of Indiana and Golf Digest named the resort to its “Best Affordable New Places to Play” list.
The Knights will be battling some tumultuous weather throughout their time in Indiana.
Rutgers will have decent weather heading its way for Friday’s part of the competition, since temperatures will be at a comfortable 62 degrees on the first day.
After Friday, it’s a different story — Saturday could be soggy.
The golfers will have to play in winds gusting over 14 miles per hour with over a half inch rain in the forecast. The high winds will continue on Sunday with partly cloudy skies.
Williams and her players have been preparing for the Big Ten Championships at the Rutgers golf course on campus the last week or so. The Knights have been practicing hard, and their head coach claims they are ready for their final tournament of the season.
“We’ve got about 10 days to get ready, and we’re excited about that,” Williams said after the River Landing Classic. “The course is open, the range is open, so we’re going to be spending a lot of time working on things on the range and then actually going out to the golf course to try and implement it.”
As a former high school basketball coach, Williams compares her team being able to golf outside the Rutgers golf course for the first time this spring to a basketball team only able to practice one shot all year.
“We’ve kind of been like a basketball team that has only been able to practice layups for the last three months and no scrimmaging, so I think it’s going to help us to go out and scrimmage a little bit and actually play golf on the golf course and hit the ball outside off grass and not off mats. I’m excited for Big Ten and I think we’ve made some huge progress down here this weekend,” she said at the River Landing Classic.
After a top-10 finish at the River Landing Classic and a season low round, the Knights seem to peaking at the perfect time.
“We're just coming around at the right time scoring as a team,” Williams said.
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