Rutgers senior seeks strong finish to career
Jacob Stockl grabbed his driver from his black golf bag — the Big Ten logo inscribed in scarlet red letters on each side — and began his routine in the teebox.
The senior was ready to tee-off, but also ready to begin the final stretch of his career as a member of the Rutgers men's golf team at the Big Ten Match Play in Florida this past February.
As Stockl put the ball on the tee, he was set to embark on what would be his last spring as a Scarlet Knight.
Stockl stepped back from the tee and started to prepare himself to hit the ball.
Once he has completed his preparation, Stockl lines up his feet and points his shoulders towards his target. Next, he bends his knees and is primed to start his swing. Once he assures his grip is correct, Stockl raises the club back and begins his backswing.
Afterwards, he powers the club towards the ball in his downswing and makes contact.
Stockl follows through and watches his shot glide through the warm, Florida air until the ball lands softly on the fairway.
The senior has made a habit of tee shots like this one — pure, rhythmic shots that arrive directly to their intended destination.
Jacob Stockl hales from Clark, New Jersey, where he was introduced to golf at a very young age and began to competitively at the age of eight years.
Stockl started playing at the high school level in 2008 as a student at Arthur L. Johnson High School in his hometown of Clark. His achievements as a high school golfer are nearly endless.
In both his freshman and sophomore years, Stockl won the Union County Tournament Championship. He was victorious in the tournament again in his senior year. The Newark Star Ledger named Stockl to its All-State team in both his junior and senior seasons. On top of that, Stockl was named most valuable player of Arthur L. Johnson golf in all four seasons.
He layed at the junior level as well and competed for the New Jersey Junior Ryder Cup team for three years.
After he graduated from high school in 2011, he chose to remain in his home state and enroll at Rutgers.
Stockl began his career as a Knight that fall and was successful right off the bat, seeming to adjust well at the college level. Stockl played in two events in the fall of 2011 including the Rutgers Invitational where he had a plus three, 74 in the final round.
Stockl has had a stellar career as a Knight and his track record demonstrates that. In each of his seasons, Stockl has been one of the team’s top competitors and continues to bring that consistency each and every tournament.
Two events in particular stick out to him.
In 2013, the then-junior placed first at the Rutgers Invitational. Stockl shot a one under, 70 in the first round, followed by a three under, 68 and an even, 71 in the third round. Overall, Stockl put up a four under, 138.
Stockl earned a ninth place finish at the Colleton River Collegiate last spring by shooting a 221. He hit a plus-one, 73 in the first round, and a plus-two, 74 in rounds two and three.
This season, Stockl is the lone senior. He's had to embrace a larger leadership role than has been asked of him in the past, but he looks to lend his experience onto his teammates.
Despite the long and strenuous grind of the season, Stockl believes that all of the countless hours spent in practice working on the nuances of the game will pay dividends for the Knights.
“For the younger players, I would just have to say whenever we’re playing in competition just, you know, know that all the practices we put in will pay off eventually,” he said. “It may not pay off this week, it may not pay off next week, but if you practice every single day and do what you’re supposed to do and you look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and you know that you did everything you could to get better, then eventually it will pay off.”
Stockl prepared for the latter half of the 2015 season this winter inside of the Rutgers Indoor Practice Bubble. The facility offered Rutgers a place to prepare for the spring as the University golf course was blanketed with snow.
“We’ve done a lot of full swing exercises and full swing reps that really got us going towards the right direction," he said. "I would say there’s really no negatives about our practices. We’ve been making a lot more of the right moves going forward, and it’s showing up. I think we’re in a lot better spot where we keep getting better.”
This past fall, Stockl was awarded Big Ten Golfer of the Week. Last weekend, he helped guide his team to a fourth place finish at the Princeton Invitational behind a tie for 27th place in the individual standings in the 72-player field. He shot a plus-11 for the tournament after a round one, 79 and second round, 72 for a total of 151.
Stockl had one of the top score cards in the round two with plus-two.
The senior was not satisfied with his team’s high placement and knows that it can do even better.
“I mean obviously, we played well,” said Stockl. “But we want to win every event we play. We definitely moved up some spots today, but we want to win. ... We can always do better and try to win every (time) we play.”
Head coach Rob Shutte was pleased with the way the team competed at the Princeton Invitational, especially Stockl.
“You know, especially after the last tournament where we were in position and went backwards on the last day," Shutte said. "You know, you hate to leave that sour taste in your mouths, so it certainly sets up for a better week. You feel a better taste in your mouth when you finish that way.”
With just over 10 days left until the conclusion of the 2015 season, Stockl tries to keep the team focused for a strong finish.
His ideology stems from the mantra of former Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano, who installed the mantra "Keep choppin'" into the University's culture during his time in Piscataway.
“You just gotta keep up with that positive attitude and keep choppin',” Stockl said.
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