Rutgers nets top-five finish amid 16-team field at Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate

<p>Junior Jacquelyn Mullens finished tied for 63rd at the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate March 30-31 with a total score of 254.</p>

Junior Jacquelyn Mullens finished tied for 63rd at the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate March 30-31 with a total score of 254.

The Rutgers women’s golf team took to the streets of Washington, D.C., over the weekend to explore the city. The team ventured to many different historical sites including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall.

“We were on our way to play at William & Mary and we made a quick pit stop, so to speak, just to get out and stretch our legs,” said head coach Kari Williams. “(We) had a chance to visit a couple of the monuments which I think is pretty fun to get to do. … I think it’s pretty cool to do a little something other than see the golf courses.”

But on Monday morning, the Scarlet Knights were back to business.

Rutgers competed at the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate in Williamsburg, Virginia, on Monday and Tuesday. The Knights played some solid golf on Plantation Course at the Kingsmill Resort.

The 6,432-yard, par 72 course was designed by Ed Seay and Arnold Palmer. The course has a historic feel due to the presence of the Kingsmill Plantation in the surrounding areas. Playing the course presents a challenge as it emphasizes iron play and putting, rather than using the driver to hit longer shots.

Rutgers finished in fifth place at the conclusion of the three-round, 16-team tournament. As a team, the Knights shot a 956. In the first round, the golfers struggled and put up a combined 326 total. But they bounced back in the second and third rounds, scoring a 313-317.

Junior Racquel Zurick had the highest placement of any Knight, finishing 10th in the standings. Zurick shot a plus-seven, 79 in the first round followed by a plus-one, 73 and a plus-six, 78 for a 230 total score.

“She had a top-10 finish and I think it was a personal best for her as far as three days of an event,” Williams said. “She just really commanded and took care of the ball, played well, played smart. She made quite a few birdies, but was really calm and composed out there. I was really happy for here and her success.”

Fellow junior Christina Paulsen earned a top-30 finish with a tie for 29th place. She shot a plus-nine, 81, a plus-10, 82, and plus-four, 76.

Freshman Emily Mills continued to play consistent golf, compiling a 240 to finish the tournament in 31st place. Mills had a first round 80, a 79 in the second round followed by a third round 81.

Tatum Jackson ended the competition in a tie for 53rd in the standings. The freshman had a combined mark of 250 with an 86 in round one, and 82’s in both the second and third rounds.

Lastly, junior Jacquelyn Mullens picked up a tie for 63rd after posting a 254. Mullens shot a plus-20, 92 in the first round but cleaned up her game and played well in the final two rounds with a plus-seven, 79 and a plus-11, 83.

Sophomore Maddy Gedeon competed as an individual and finished the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate in a tie for 44th place. She hit a plus-seven, 79, a plus-10, 82, and a plus-13, 85 for a total score of 246.

Eastern Michigan won the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate after shooting a 917 as a unit. Delaware finished in second, followed by William & Mary, Radford, Rutgers and 10 other schools.

Next up, Rutgers returns to New Jersey to play in the Seton Hall Pirate Invitational in Bedminster Thursday and Friday.

In-state rival Seton Hall will host the 12-team, three-round tournament at the Trump National Golf Club. The golfers will play 18 holes Thursday and another 18 on Friday. The teams will begin to tee-off at 10 a.m. in the morning and continue play at 9 a.m. Friday.

The Trump National Golf Club features two award-winning golf courses, the Old and the New.

The New Course was also designed by Tom Fazio and opened its doors in August of 2008. Fazio built the course using the rest of the land surrounding the Old Course. While the New Course is similar to its counterpart, it has many distinct features that give golfers a different experience.

The New Course has smaller bunkers and greens with more changes in elevation than the Old Course. The New Course also has contrasting scenery, containing more trees to give it a more forest-like feel. 

Jordan Speith, the No. 2 ranked golfer in the world and winner of the Valspar Championship this past March, has played on this course in the past.

“It’s one of the highest caliber golf courses in the US,” Williams said. “We’ve spent a lot of time around the greens trying to get a good game plan together for tomorrow and Friday.”

Rutgers will have a chip on its shoulder when it competes against Seton Hall and another in-state rival in Princeton.

“In every event we go to play our best and try to beat everybody around us,” said Williams “I think there’s always a little of that around where you’d like to have bragging rights, for sure.”

Head coach Kari William’s former team, Columbia, will also play at the Seton Hall Pirate Invitational.

“It’s a little different in golf than, let’s say, basketball where you’re head to head coaching,” Williams said. “Obviously, it will be nice to see my former players and I’m always cheering for them except when they’re playing us. It’s fun for me, absolutely.”

If Rutgers can utilize its irons and short game to hit precise shots rather than going for the home run with the long game, the Knights could have another top-five finish in its future.

“I think we need to stay focused and we’ve really been working on the process of playing golf and what that really means and what it looks like,” said Williams. “We’ve been trying to be committed to the shot so, making a decision and decide what club and what shot you going to hit it in and really commit to that. So, I think if we can continue on that path and commit to our shots while making good decisions, we give ourselves the best chance of executing the shot.”

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

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