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Rutgers looks to overcome youth in spring invite

<p>Freshman Taylor Clark paced the Knights at the Central District Invitational, carding a 230 to finish 59th out of 80 participants.</p>

Freshman Taylor Clark paced the Knights at the Central District Invitational, carding a 230 to finish 59th out of 80 participants.

Starting March 2, the Rutgers women’s golf team will look to right the ship in the Kiawah Spring Invitational.

This comes after a poor start of the second half of its season at the Michigan State Central District Invitational. The Scarlet Knights finished in last place among 13 teams.

In total, they finished 97 shots over par.

“What most hurt us last week was that we had not played a round of golf on grass in several months,” said head coach Maura Ballard. “So, our first two rounds, we were shaking off the rust. Our touch and feel around the greens was much improved by the third round of the tournament.”

Although it was not an ideal performance for Rutgers, there were a few bright spots.

Freshman Taylor Clark and sophomore Samantha Moyal put on the best performances for Rutgers, posting scores of 14 and 21 over par, respectively.

Moyal is one of the six sophomores on the team.

“I think all of us sophomores are leaders in our own way. Yes, I do see myself as a leader,” Moyal said. “However, I think that a huge part of being a leader involves listening and respecting other people’s opinions and inputs.”

For Clark, it was the best performance of her young collegiate career, posting a combined score of 230 over the three rounds.

Ballard thinks it is only the beginning for her.

“I think Taylor Clark is just scratching the surface on what she is capable of accomplishing during her collegiate career,” Ballard said. “She is very focused and very dedicated to improving her game.”

The performance stood out for Clark as a means to improve.

“Every time that I play golf, I try to play with a one-shot mindset in order to properly manage the conditions and situations that arise during a round,” Clark said. “I feel that I played well under the course conditions, but I also look forward to use the experience that I have gained at this tournament to continue to improve my golf game.”

Rutgers has a young golf team, fielding six sophomores and two freshmen.

The youth on the roster will be a factor, according to Ballard.

“I think it is definitely a factor how a young team performs compared to a veteran team. … By the time our athletes are juniors and seniors they have grown immensely in confidence and maturity,” Ballard said. “That makes them much better competitors. My players know they’re young and it’s early in their careers. I believe that keeps them focused knowing every year it will get a little easier for them.”

Moyal spoke on her personal approach to tournaments.

“For every round I like to stay in the moment, which means hitting one shot at a time and not having any preconceived notions of what the outcome will be,” she said. “I know I’m capable of shooting low like I did in my last round at the Michigan State tournament in Florida.”

Rutgers comes into the Kiawah Spring Invitational looking to build on its third-round success from the last tournament.

Golfing for Rutgers will be the same five as last time: Clark, Moyal, sophomore Jackie Mullens, sophomore Gabrielle Sacheli and freshman Maddy Gedeon.

Some of the things Ballard said the team is looking to improve upon from the past tournament are its short game, chipping and putting.

“A few keys for us to perform better are to continue to focus on the present moment, stay confident and do the best you can on the shot at hand,” Ballard said. “My goals for the upcoming tournament are for each of us to be patient and continue to hone our skills. I am looking for improvement each time we play.”

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

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