Rutgers starts season with positive results
Recognitions and awards not only increase the prestige of a college athletics team, but also raise expectations.
Fourteen days ago, three members of the Rutgers women’s golf team were honored by the Big Ten Conference. Credited for of their spectacular play this past fall and spring, seniors Christina Paulsen and Racquel Zurick, along with sophomore Emily Mills, were named Big Ten Women’s Golfers to Watch.
Having three Scarlet Knights recognized by the conference is promising for the program as a whole and gave the team further confidence going into its first tournament.
“I think it was great,” said head coach Kari Williams. “I think that we have five or six others that could have been on the watch. Obviously, Tatum Jackson could’ve been on there just as easily and it’s just exciting and it’s fun to know that, you know, in our second year in the Big Ten, we’ll be much more competitive this year. Golf in the Big Ten is very good on the women’s side and we have our work cut out for us but we’re going to be pretty competitive this year so I’m excited.”
On Sept. 5, Rutgers traveled to Happy Valley for the Nittany Lion Invitational at Penn State. The two-day, three round tournament took place at the Penn State University Golf Course’s Blue Course.
The front nine and back nine are noticeably different from each other on the Blue Course.
The front nine is a par 36 and measures 3,696 yards. The greens contain numerous challenging side bunkers. Meanwhile, the back nine is more of a links style course due to the ponds and water hazards it features. The back nine is also a par 36 but its distance is slightly shorter than the front nine as it measures 3,518 yards.
Eight teams, including Big Ten foe Penn State, participated in the event. This gave the Knights an ample opportunity to earn a conference victory to start off the season. Rutgers fared well at the Nittany Lion Invitational, finishing in fourth place with three of its golfers earning spots in the top 25.
“I was very happy with our performance,” Williams said. “We ended up fourth behind William & Mary, Delaware and Penn State. Penn State ended up winning their home event and we were just missing a fourth score each day. We had three good scores every round and we kind of had to count a higher score in the fourth slot.”
Mills put up a four over par. She shot a plus-one, 73 in round one, a three over par, 75 in the second round and an even 72 in the third round. Mills compiled 10 birdies at the event and finished in third place.
Sophomore Tatum Jackson earned a tie for 16th with Towson’s Jenny Buchanan. Jackson put up a plus-five, 77 in round one, followed by a plus-six, 78, and a plus-two, 74. Overall, she had a 13 over par, 229 total and had two birdies.
Freshman Astrid Aneman picked up a 23rd place finish with a score of 234. The Stockholm, Sweden, native shot a 78, 81 and 75.
Paulsen had a 21 over par, 237 mark for the event to secure a tie for 29th in the standings along with Liz Choi of William & Mary. Paulsen had a 76 in the first round, an 81 in the second round and a 79 in the third round. Zurick and senior Samantha Moyal tied for 33rd with scores of plus 23, 239.
Penn State rose above the rest of the field to win the Nittany Lion Invitational with an 889 team mark, as Delaware trailed in second place and William & Mary taking third.
This past weekend, Rutgers competed in the Diane Thomasen Invitational at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa. For the second straight week, another Big Ten foe in the Hawkeyes stood on the horizons for the Knights. The two-day, three-round tournament consisted of 12 teams and 70 players.
The golfers played their games wonderfully for the second week in a row. With a team score of 906, Rutgers earned a top finish landing in second place.
“We had a great team performance, our best one yet,” Williams said. “It was a full team performance because we counted at least two rounds out of all five golfers that we took to the event. We set a program record low for a single day which was the 298 in the second round Saturday afternoon and then we shot a program overall low of 906.”
Four Rutgers golfers finished in the top 20, with Zurick leading the pack after she finished in eighth place. She had a total of 226 after hitting a 77, 75 and a 74.
“She had made a slight swing change over the summer and some adjustments to her pre-shot routine that we talked about after Penn State and made an adjustment to and took some movements out of that,” Williams said about Zurick’s outing. “That’s pretty tough to do ... really in only two days of practice but she had faith in what we decided needed to be done and she went out and did it. She made all-tournament team at Iowa and she played the best for us. I give her a lot of credit for having the guts to make that kind of change on short notice.”
Mills and Paulsen both carded 228’s to earn ties for 13th in the standings. Mills put up 74 in each of the first two rounds and followed up with an 80 in round three. Paulsen hit two 77 scores in rounds one and two and added a 74 in the third round.
By shooting an 81, a 72 and a 76, Jackson finished in a tie for 18th place with a total score of 229. The Mountain Brook, Alabama, native tabbed nine birdies at the Invite.
Iowa won the Diane Thomason Invitational with a scorecard of 880, followed by Rutgers in second and Delaware taking third place.
“It was a really great weekend for us,” Williams said. “We were in fifth and we were able to come back and beat Delaware, who had beat us the week before. And to beat Harvard … Harvard’s been a high ranked team the last few years so it was a really good weekend for us. I would’ve liked to have beaten Iowa but they were playing on their home course and they had a pretty good lead on us.”
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