April 22, 2019 | 54° F

Rutgers tries to avoid Hurricane Joaquin in Connecticut

Photo by Luo Zhengchen |

Sophomore Toks Pedro finished in eighth place at the Badger Invitational this past week with a four over par, 220.

A chance at redemption looms large.

The Rutgers men’s golf team heads to New Haven, Connecticut, for the McDonald Cup on Friday and Saturday. With Hurricane Joaquin on the horizon and fast approaching, the tournament was moved up to a 1:15 p.m. tee time on Friday.

The Scarlet Knights competed at the Badger Invitational earlier this week from Sept. 27-29. The team got off to a fast start, concluding the first day of the event in fifth place. In the second and third rounds, rainy conditions plagued the golfers and as a result, they fell in the standings.

Rutgers ended up finishing in 11th place with a 913 team total. The Knights played soundly in the first round, posting a plus-8, 296 as a unit. In the second and third rounds, the team mustered scores of 302 and 315, respectively.

“They finished 11th, so ultimately — the scoreboard — it’s not where we want to finish,” said head coach Rob Shutte. “We were one good round away on the second round from being in third place there. We had pretty good rounds there in round two and weren’t able to get the fourth score there. The guys struggles and that’s kind of the name of the game. We needed a fourth score and were in pretty good shape.”

Evidently, the bad weather and stormy conditions took a toll on the Knights in the third round.

“I feel bad for the guys,” Shutte said. “The guys I felt wanted to compete so it’s really tough conditions. We were happy that we got the tough conditions, so regardless, we thought it would favor a team that was mentally tough because the conditions were so difficult … I was disappointed for them because they went in excited to compete in those conditions, I thought. It could’ve played to our advantage potentially and it didn’t, so it was a long flight back”

Rutgers had plenty of positives to draw on in the event. Sophomore Toks Pedro continues to excel on the course for the Knights. He secured an 8th place finish and led his team in the standings. The Lagos, Nigeria, native shot a four over par 220 with a 71 in the first round, a 70 in round two and a third round 79.

Shutte was complimentary of Pedro.

“I mean, every tournament I feel like we go to, he is somebody who has the ability to contend,” Shutte said. “His talent is unbelievable. So, it’s just a matter of him, he didn’t finish that second round off, he got to five under in round two and then we get into some of the tougher holes and Pedro made some bogeys on some of the tougher holes. … He’s a special player, he’s really good.”

Shutte said that as Pedro gets more experience, he will do a better job of closing tournaments better.

“I think he’s still probably disappointed the way he finished out,” said Shutte. “But the more and more experience he gets to finish out the last 27 holes of the tournament or really the last 18. He played the first 27 pretty good. It doesn’t surprise me. ... He knows, I think he knows how talented he is, but maybe he doesn’t really know how talented he is, if that makes sense. Everyone else sees it, so hopefully he can gain on that momentum moving forward.”

Senior Jonathan Chang also competed hard. He earned 39th place in the standings with a 229. The Valencia, California, native shot a one over par 73 in the second round and an 80 in round three. Sophomores Matt Holuta and Jack Panagos played respectable golf as well.

Holuta finished in 64th place, hitting a 74, 85 and 78 for a total score of 237. Meanwhile, Panagos posted two scores of 75 and an 89 and for a 239 individual mark, just two strokes behind Holuta. Pangos ended up in 67th place.

Junior Chase Wheatley and senior Ryan Rose both had some success. Rose finished in 50th place and Wheatley placed in 74th.

The conditions this weekend will be difficult in New Haven, but the Knights will be able to gain some experience playing in harsh weather, which is nice for a golfer to have under their belt.

“The tournament could get moved,” Shutte said before the change in schedule was announced on Thursday. “We just got an email about it, so we’re gonna see. It's going to be obviously really difficult conditions, 50 degrees, you know, 30 mile an hour winds with this hurricane coming up. So if we play (the tournament), it’s gonna be ugly golf. … We started to form a starting lineup a little bit there with Chang and Toks and some of those, the two sophomores Matt and Jack.”

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

Evan Bruno

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