The Rutgers men’s and women’s golf teams’ fall campaigns kicked off on the road last weekend in Towson, Md., and Lewisburg, Pa., respectively.
On the women’s side, Rutgers tied for second overall out of 15 teams in the Bucknell Invitational with a final score of 931 (310-310-311). For only the first event of the season, head coach Maura Waters-Ballard was impressed.
“We only had two days of team practice before we took off,” Waters-Ballard said. “I was really proud of how they all played. They all played very consistently, mentally stable. They really did a good job out there.”
Sophomore Kortnie Maxoutopoulis and senior co-captain Brittany Weddell led the way for the Knights, tying individually for fifth overall with 229.
Rutgers’ top two golfers from the season’s first event, as well as much of last season, received high praise from Waters-Ballard.
“Brittany’s play was tremendous this weekend,” Waters-Ballard said. “I think she did a great job leading the way and setting an example for the freshmen.”
Maxoutopoulis, who had a strong freshman campaign, continued where she left off for the Knights, making six birdies.
“Kortnie played a lot this summer, and her skill sets have improved even more from last year,” Waters-Ballard said. “She’s made a lot of improvements in her mental game. I think we are going to continue to see good play and great scores out of her as we move forward.”
Freshmen Melanie Chambers, Samantha Moyal, and senior co-captain Karen Cash rounded out the scorecard for the team, finishing with final totals of 235, 240 and 242, respectively.
For the men, it was uncharted territory at STX Match Play.
“I don’t think any of our guys have ever played in a match play format,” said head coach Rob Shutte. “It’s a unique format, one we haven’t played in. So it’s cool, something different.”
But one of the potential downsides to match play unveiled itself on the first day on the green Saturday, when the Scarlet Knights opened with a difficult blind draw pairing against host Towson, falling, 4-3, in their STX opener.
A crucial factor was top freshman recruit Jonathan Chang suffering a loss in the first position in his collegiate golf debut. Towson junior Joe Gunerman beat him in all 18 holes.
“It was obviously a heartbreaker for him and came down to him on the end,” Shutte said. “But it was good to put him in the fire and get him tested. He got a lot of support out there.”
Juniors Doug Walters, Jonathan Renza and Dillon Corbo won the three individual victories against Towson, 6-5, 5-4 and 4-3, respectively. Senior captain John Fagan and freshmen Jacob Stockl and Hyung Mo Kim represented the rest of the Knights’ scorecard on the losing end.
After being sent down to the loser’s bracket Sunday, the team redeemed itself with a 7-0 sweep against Stevenson. Corbo played first position for Rutgers in the set, winning, 4-3, to lead the way.
But after losing the first match against a strong opponent Saturday, the Knights found a frustrating position in the grand scheme.
“Certainly I feel like we’re one of the top three teams here,” Shutte said. “But we can’t finish any better than fifth [today], even though we’ll have a 2-1 record if we’re able to take care of business.
The men concluded STX Match Play yesterday against FDU.
“It’s been a great team bonding experience,” Shutte said. “The play has been pretty good overall.”