Sophomore wins first event

The Rutgers men’s and women’s golf teams teed off in Bethlehem, Pa., this weekend, each competing in the eight-team Lehigh Invitational and finishing in the top five.

The women’s team placed fourth in its invitational, carding a 615 (301-314).

After winning two tournaments last fall, sophomore Kortnie Maxoutopoulis claimed her first title of the 2012 campaign.

The Pleasanton, Calif., native tied for first place among 45 golfers with a 145 (72-75) scorecard.

“She’s really been hitting the ball very well this last week and a half,” said head coach Maura Waters-Ballard. “She’s been working hard, and her swing is right where she wants it to be, so she’s got tons of confidence. And I think you’re going to see some more good scores out of her next week at Furman.”

Senior co-captain Brittany Weddell earned a 152 (74-78) scorecard to finish tied for seventh place.

For the first time all season, Rutgers topped a tournament field after a round of play. The Knights were in first place after the first round of the invitational with a 301 — four strokes ahead of Big East rival Seton Hall — but inconsistent play in the final 18 holes erased the team’s narrow lead.

But how the Knights slipped all the way to fourth place baffled Waters-Ballard.

“I guess we just lost our focus,” she said. “I’m still reflecting on it, trying to figure out what went wrong.”

The numbers show one critical factor to the fall — the erratic play of freshman Samantha Moyal, who placed fourth on the team’s scorecard.

A top-five overall performer in the first round with a score of 75, she declined 15 strokes in the final round and posted a 90 to drop to 33rd place with a 165 final score.

“I know Samantha is working on a swing change, so sometimes she feels really good with the change and sometimes it feels uncomfortable,” Waters-Ballard said. “[In the first round] she was really feeling good and [in the last round] she lost it. We’ve only been working for two weeks on the swing change, and it really takes a couple of months to get something like that to feel comfortable on every swing.”

Freshman Melanie Chambers and senior co-captain Karen Cash came in third and fifth on the scorecard, respectively, tying for 19th and 38th overall with 159 (80-79) and 168 (86-82) totals.

The squad returns to practice this week in preparation for the final event of its fall campaign Oct 26-28 at the Furman Lady Paladin Invitational in Greenville, S.C.

In the final tournament of its fall campaign, the men’s team took home second place as it recorded a 596 (300-296) total scorecard.

“The course was in great shape,” said head coach Rob Shutte. “Having coached at Lehigh, I knew the course extremely well. Hopefully I was able to pass along some confidence to [the golfers].

Junior co-captain Doug Walters led the way for the Scarlet Knights with a 146 (75-71), tying for third place individually in the 45-player field.

For the second consecutive tournament, sophomore Jacob Stockl placed second on the Knights’ scorecard, finishing tied for 11th place while shooting a 150 (77-73).

But inconsistencies farther down the scorecard contributed to Rutgers not capturing a tournament win.

Freshman Jonathan Chang shot a 71 in the first round before regressing to an 80 in the final 18, tying for 16th place. Junior Jonathan Renza got off to a slow start with an 80 in the first round, but improved to a 73 in the final round for 18th place.

“We’ll have a lot of work to do in the offseason,” Shutte said. “We’re just inconsistent at times. We’ve seen that in a number of tournaments where we’ve just got to get a little more consistency across the board. Those things aren’t just a little bit of luck.”

Senior co-captain John Fagan complemented the remainder of the scorecard with 156 (77-79), tied for 23rd place.

As the Knights now use the offseason to prepare for the spring campaign, Shutte emphasizes both mental and physical toughness as areas the team needs to work on.

“We’ve got to have ridiculously demanding offseason workouts to really develop us mentally so we are the toughest possible team as we get into competing in the springtime,” Schutte said. “We’re going to bond as a team in the weight room big-time, and try to develop strength and flexibility that will be things we can use in the springtime, so we’ll stay busy. But certainly we’re going in the right direction.”

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