April 23, 2019 | 71° F

Rutgers treks north for invitational

Photo by Luo Zhengchen |

Sophomore Jack Panagos is one of five Knights to earn a spot in the Rutgers starting lineup at the Hartford Hawk Invitational today.

The Rutgers men’s golf team returns to action today at the Hartford Hawk Invitational in South Kent, Connecticut. 

The Scarlet Knights are currently on a hot streak after their most recent performance at the Rutgers Invitational on Sept. 11 and 12 where the team played sound golf and finished in second place, scoring a six over par, 838 on their home course.

The Knights' task for their next competition will be to continue the upward trend and stay on the right track. Rutgers had five golfers earn top 20 finishes at the RU Invitational.

Although he played with the Knights' B-Team, senior Louis Bodine was among the top 20 finishers, picking up a spot in seventh place with a scorecard of 212. The Flemington, New Jersey, native also had a hole in one during the competition.

Despite playing as well as he did at the Rutgers Golf Course, Bodine was unable to qualify for the Harford Hawk Invitational and will not be in Monday’s lineup for Rutgers.

“He’s not (in the lineup) and we just finished up practice,” said head coach Rob Shutte. “He’s on the outside looking in, you know. He’s in the mix, for sure. You know, it’s tough, he didn’t qualify. He didn’t play well enough to be in our lineup for that tournament (Rutgers Invitational) and then didn’t play well enough to kind of qualify here so that was a tough call. I think he played okay in our tournament, you know, it is our home tournament. … We had a lot of guys play well.”

As a coach and mentor, it's always difficult to have to tell one of your players that they didn’t make the cut. For Shutte, it's even harder because many of his golfers played so well over the course of this young season.

“Yeah, it’s always tough because unlike other sports, it’s all or nothing,” he said. “You know in other sports, you might be able to (go to) a game and play a few minutes and contribute. It’s tough for us but it’s all or nothing so either you’re going to the tournament or you’re not. So, it becomes a lot more harsher that way. … It’s really hard, especially if you care a lot about the guys for sure.”

Shutte said it will become less challenging to put together his lineup as the year progresses.

“As we get further into the season, it might get a little bit easier, because we have body of work as well as recent trends, you know," he said. "… I think what’s also hard is there’s always a couple of check boxes. There’s two guys that are most deserving for that final spot and very often you have a couple check boxes in somebody’s category for a couple aspects of their life and their game and there’s always a couple check boxes in somebody else’s category. Trying to weigh that all is always hard.”

Rutgers will compete in tournaments for the next three weeks, which will take away from practice time and also hinder the team’s chances of vying for those five precious spots in the lineup.

"It’s going to be less time to compete. There’s going to have to be a lot more just kind of macro decisions about, you know, program direction and who deserves those spots,” Shutte said. 

The team’s lineup is eerily similar to the one Shutte employed at the Rutgers Invitational nine days ago. Senior Jonathan Chang, junior Ryan Rose and sophomores Jack Panagos, Toks Pedro and Matt Holutta will play in Connecticut today. The only change is junior Chase Wheatley will not be in the tournament.

Former American Athletic Conference foes UConn and Temple will be competing in the Hartford Hawk Invitational as well as former Big East rival, Villanova. The University of Hartford, a Big Sky Conference member, will play host to the event.

Entering the season, Shutte said he wanted to see Panagos step into more of a leadership role.

“Well, I mean leaders, I don’t think leaders need to do anything special other than just doing what they do because they’re natural leaders,” Shutte said. “Jack (Panagos) is a dominant personality, so that’s why he is where he is. ... He could be a leader whether he’s our best player or our worst player, but hopefully he can play good golf for him and as a result it will probably be easier for him to be a good leader.”

At the Rutgers Invitational, Panagos shot a 221 and finished in a tie for 28th place. The Hillsborough, New Jersey, native said his coach’s comments carry a lot of weight to him. 

“It means a lot,” Panagos said. “I think the biggest thing is leading by example and stuff like that — just making sure you do everything that you need to do in order to get better and things like that. Freshman (year), like when I first got here, I didn’t mess up, but there was some little things that I wasn’t too sharp on. But I thought I really grew as a person … I just gotta keep on doing those things in order to keep it going and shoot lower scores.”

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

Evan Bruno

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