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Several players excel as Rutgers golf looks to finish season strong

In addition to individual success, junior captain Xavier Marcoux wants to put together some team success as the Rutgers golf season draws to a close. – Photo by Scarletknights.com

As the Ridgewood, New Jersey, native Scottie Scheffler was in the process of winning the Masters, the Rutgers men’s golf team was 700 miles away, competing in the Boilermaker Invitational that was held in West Lafayette, Indiana, between April 9 and 10.

The Scarlet Knights were led to their best finish of the spring by junior captain Xavier Marcoux, who shot 1-over par for the weekend and finished tied for sixth individually. This was the third consecutive tournament in which Marcoux led the way for Rutgers.

Behind Marcoux, junior captain Luke Wells finished in the top 25 for the tournament as he shot 8-over par, tied for 25th. Meanwhile, freshman Weston Jones shot five-over par, placing him in a tie for 16th.

“You can tell (Jones is) getting used to it and is going to succeed the next three years after this," said Wells when asked about Jones.

Head coach Rob Shutte had a similar take on Jones’ play. “(Jones is) on track to probably have our lowest freshman scoring average since the golf stat era which keeps a lot of the stats for the last 25 years,” Schutte said. “He’s off to a great start as a freshman.”

As a team, the Knights had to overcome strong winds and near-freezing temperatures to capture the top-five finish in West Lafayette. These conditions did not phase Rutgers.

“You know that 50 percent of the field is just going to quit in those conditions since you don’t want to be there playing in that weather,” Marcoux said. “You just have to focus and beat the other half out.”

In order to stay focused in these conditions, the Knights have worked on their mental preparation throughout the season.

“The big thing for me is to be able to take how well I hit on the range and have it go on the golf course without feeling like I’m thinking (about it),” said Wells.

Rutgers’ trip to Puerto Rico last month represented a chance for the team to do just that. In the warm weather, the Knights were able to hone their skills on a field they felt comfortable on.

“We've been to this event a number of times and it's a really great field,” Schutte said. “It's a real comfortable spot to be. It's a lot harder golf course, which I think we play better at. It suits our style more and we can kind of grind out pars here.”

At various points throughout the season, Rutgers has given opportunities to all eight members of the team. These are experiences that Marcoux hopes will pay off for the Knights in the long run.

Some of these opportunities have resulted in some impressive performances for Rutgers already.

In September, sophomore Rhett Sellers finished tied for ninth at the OTC Collegiate Invitational in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

Less than three weeks later, Wells matched his teammate with an impressive showing of his own, tying him for 17th at the Quail Valley Championship in Vero Beach, Florida.

“We’re just handling the moment better,” Wells said in reference to how the team has improved. “I feel like we’re a lot more comfortable than we were at the beginning of the year.”

Since the start of the spring schedule, Marcoux’s six-under showing at the Colleton River Collegiate in Bluffton, South Carolina, marks the best individual score. He finished the tournament tied for ninth.

On the season, both Marcoux and Wells have led the Knights in eight tournaments while Sellers did so once.

This has not gone unnoticed.

“We’re a really competitive group,” Wells said. “Each week we have our own team tournaments and really want to win against each other. It’s definitely a motivator.”

Despite the individual achievements, Rutgers has had a tough time piecing together much team success. The program has just one top-five finish as a team on the season and went 2-2 in their five matches at the Big Ten Match Play tournament in February.

Up next for the Knights is a trip to Columbus, Ohio, for the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate this weekend. Following this weekend, Rutgers will head to French Lick, Indiana, for the Big Ten Championships, which begins on April 29.

“We’re right in the middle pack of the Big Ten rankings wise,” Schutte said. “We are going to need to have two good finishes to move up enough to get into the postseason or we can win Big Tens straight-up.”


For more updates on the Rutgers men's golf team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.


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