Knights finish Invite in fifth at Columbia

The Rutgers men’s and women’s golf teams were in action this weekend at their respective competitions. It was the first time both teams competed at the same time since March in their spring season debut.

The men’s team played in the 26th annual Princeton Invitational in Princeton, N.J., where the Scarlet Knights placed 12th with a scorecard of 913.

Sophomore Jonathan Renza carded a 218 and tied for 14th place in the 75-player field. He had a tournament-best 37 for the Knights.

Although the team did not finish the way it hoped, the players were satisfied with their effort and the way they played.

“I hit the ball very well this weekend,” Renza said. “However, I had trouble finishing off my rounds, and I left many shots out there on my last three holes in all three rounds.”

Head coach Rob Shutte had expectations to finish higher in the tournament, but he was pleased with the team’s will to compete. Shutte told the players to go out and play, and if he saw they gave it their all, it did not matter what happened in the end.

“I saw a lot of progress,” he said. “We were close to breaking the 300-[stroke] barrier [for a single round], and the course was a bearable one. We went into the first round on Saturday with a lot of momentum, and we carried it into Sunday, as well. This was a learning experience, especially for the younger golfers because they carried the team. The players will learn how to adapt to different environments the more they play.”

With the season nearing its end, the Knights believe they finally have the confidence they searched for all season. They now feel their desire to compete will eventually show in their play.

“I can see that we’re growing,” Shutte said. “We all know that we want Rutgers to be a winning program, so we are trying to get into that mindset. The players are not intimidated anymore and go into matches playing their game. As a team, we are not too far off. We have a ways to go, but we’re getting closer.”

Rutgers has one more match this season, and it is set on not wasting the experience from the previous tournaments.

“I was able to learn a lot from this match and throughout the season,” Renza said. “I will be more focused and prepared for the Big East Tournament.”

On the other side, the women’s team finished the weekend in fifth at the sixth annual Roar-EE Invitational in Suffern, N.Y.

Freshman Kortnie Maxoutopoulis was a spark for the Knights, carding a 153 and tying for ninth place out of 75 players.

Along with Maxoutopoulis, juniors Brittany Weddell and Karen Cash also helped Rutgers with its other top-15 finishes.

“We did fairly well,” said head coach Maura Waters-Ballard. “We were very competitive, and we played well as a team. All season long, I was pleased with the way that we stay in the moment and we didn’t let our emotions get to us. We kept our heads in the game, and it was evident this weekend.”

The Knights end the season at the Big East Championships in Orlando. The women tee off for the final time Sunday and play through next Tuesday.

The men’s team has two weeks to prepare for its season finale. They take to the course April 29 through May 1 to conclude the season.

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