Piscataway, N.J. (Feb. 16, 2014) – As the links lay covered in snow, the men’s golf team focuses on preparing for spring competition. The Scarlet Knights hope to capitalize on their success in the fall season, having notched two strong tournament wins at the Hartford Invitational and the Lehigh Invitational.
“After our workouts in the fall, after our wins, it confirms all the messages that we have been trying to preach. In terms of balancing golf and academics, it shows that we can do well in the classroom and win tournaments,” third-year Head Coach Rob Shutte explained.
The team will focus on maintaining that balance as they enter its last season in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), before heading to the Big Ten Conference. Rutgers final stand in the AAC will be an excellent test of the team’s strength moving forward.
“Our conference that we have this year, the AAC, is as strong as any conference in the country, including the Big Ten. We have six teams that rank in the top 30 of the country. Everything we are doing is against the same opponent skill level and ranking now as well as in the Big Ten,” said Coach Shutte.
Rutgers will be led by seniors Jonathan Renza (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) and Doug Walters (Blairstown, N.J.). The experience between these players will be an advantage in the challenging tournaments the team is set to face.
“By their senior years, [Renza and Walters] have played in a lot of tournaments. Even though the program experience is different from when they started, they have a lot of playing experience as well. We are going to continue to rely on them,” Coach Shutte said.
The two have been led by three different coaches over their time “on the banks,” but have remained solid in competition. In the fall, Walters notched two top-10 finishes, while Renza took three top-11 finishes of his own. Walters and Renza placed first and second respectively in the Scarlet Knights win at the Lehigh Invitational.
Classmate Dillon Corbo (Montville, N.J.) adds additional support to the group. The senior has competed in many events throughout his time at Rutgers.
Junior Jacob Stockl (Clark, N.J.) has also proven to be a strong asset to the team, earning a first place finish at the Rutgers Invitational. Competing in four out of five tournaments in the fall, Stockl will remain a player to rely on.
As for the sophomore class, Jonathan Chang (Valencia, Calif.) remains a strong factor in competition. Chang has earned four top-20 finishes on the season, including tied for 14th to pace the team at the Badger Invitational.
The three freshmen have each competed in various tournaments this past fall. Rutgers will continue to see what is in store for the young members.
The depth in the roster is a powerful advantage, showing the team can turn to any member at any point in the season. Senior captain Jonathan Renza has certainly noticed the strength and talent of the group this year.
“Being here for the fourth year, our team has come a long way. It is a lot harder to crack the line up now than it was three years ago. We have ten guys on the team and every week we are competing,” Renza said.
With the progression Rutgers has seen, the season ahead is a battle the group is eager to face. Every player is in a spot to come out on top, which is an important goal in leading the team to success.
“Personally and for the team, I would like to be in contention for every tournament. I would like to say I want to win every tournament, but I [at least] want someone on our team to win because that correlates to the team winning,” Renza explained.
“As long as one person on our team is in contention, we should be close to the top of the leader board. Down the road, hopefully, we can get to Regional’s either by winning our Conference or getting an out large bid.”
While winning is always a goal, a common theme on the season is to stay a top the leader board in each contest. If the team can remain contenders, they will have won half the battle. Rutgers truly has the mentality to secure a successful season.
“I think the guys have confidence in what I’ve been telling them, which is that they are as good as the other teams there,” says Coach Shutte. “If we just work that extra 10% harder in everything, we can continue to win.”
The Scarlet Knights open the season at Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 17-18 in Los Angeles, Calif. The team will next travel to Bluffton, S.C. for the Colleton River Intercollegiate, before heading to the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular in Florida. Next up Rutgers takes on competition at the C&F Bank Intercollegiate in Williamsburg, Va. After the Princeton Invitational in New Jersey, the squad will take the trip to State College, Pa. for the Rutherford Intercollegiate. The spring campaign concludes at the AAC Championship on Apr. 27-29.