September 22, 2019 | 77° F

Knights look to build upon second-place finish

Following up a second-place finish is not exactly the easiest thing to do.

But that does not stop Rutgers women’s golf coach Maura Waters-Ballard and her team from trying.

Since the Bison Invitational, Waters-Ballard had the Scarlet Knights practice hard to sharpen their games in preparation for the upcoming Princeton Invitational at the Springdale Country Club.

The place where the Knights can improve most is around the greens, Waters-Ballard said.

“Short game, short game, short game,” she said. “Typically where we lose strokes is around the green. Before Bucknell, we were focusing on that and it paid off, so we’re just continuing to that focus.”

Waters-Ballard and Rutgers need that focus against a 12-team field that she admits is a step up from what the Knights saw at their last tournament.

“It’s going to be a very strong field with some Ivy leagues and some other top teams in the area,” she said. “We’re always focusing on trying to get a win, but if we’re top three in that field, I’ll be very proud of the girls.”

To help Waters-Ballard prepare the girls for the upcoming tournament, she has her new captain, senior Lizzy Carl.

“I learned from a great captain the last three years, so I just follow in her footsteps,” Carl said.

Carl and her teammates continue to work on all aspects of their game to ensure that no part lags once they get to Springdale.

“We try to work on every aspect as a whole because everything matters,” she said. “We spend just as much time practicing short game as we do on the range and we’ve been playing a lot so that’s good.”

The 12-day layoff between tournaments gave the team plenty of time to work on those aspects, which Carl sees as a huge benefit.

“We all worked on our games the past two weeks,” she said. “We had the weekend to kind of figure out what we did wrong last weekend and hopefully we can improve on that. We’re all playing pretty good.”

Freshman Kortnie Maxoutopoulis singled out one part of her game she can improve to earn her second victory in two tries: putting.

“I’ve definitely been focusing a lot more on putting, on giving myself a lot more chance when I have 10 feet and under to actually give them a chance, and make them and make some birdies and save some more pars and everything,” she said. “That’s definitely what I’m focusing on, and hopefully it’ll show in the tournament.”

In order to get herself into the winning mindset, Maxoutopoulis wants to approach everything the same way she did at the Bison Invitational.

“I’m not going to approach this any differently,” she said. “I’m just going to go out there and get some good practice in before I play.”

All of the players, as well as Waters-Ballard, are aware the field at Princeton is stronger, but it does not bother them at all.

“When you’re out on the golf course, all you can focus on is yourself and what you have ahead of you, so that doesn’t intimidate me or the team at all,” Maxoutopoulis said. “If you just focus on yourself and put up the best score you can, that’s all you can do.”

All of the Knights except Maxoutopoulis played there before, which works in their favor.

“We’re very comfortable at Springdale Country Club,” Waters-Ballard said. “We’ve done very well there in the past.”

A victory this weekend is in sight for everyone, with going out and executing being the only remaining issue.

“We always have a shot at the title,” Carl said. “It just depends on rolling some putts in.”

By Joey Gregory

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