Spartans Tied for the Lead at Rutgers Invitational
Piscataway, N.J. – The USC Upstate men's golf team has enjoyed tremendous success in three previous appearances in the Rutgers Invitational. After posting a 293 in the first round of this year's tournament, the Spartans are tied for first and in position for another strong finish.
In three previous appearances at the Rutgers Invitational, played at the Rutgers University Golf Course, Upstate has one team championship, two second-place finishes and two individual tournament titles.
Upstate actually lowered its score from the first round to the second, posting a 284. However, several teams remained on the course Friday afternoon into evening and play was halted for the day. The second round will be completed Saturday morning before the third and final round of the 54-hole tournament will be started. Once the second round is completed, the Spartans are expected to be in sole possession of first place.
"Today tested our ability to adapt to conditions and we did a good job," said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. "I know the guys were shocked to see the loss of distance and body motion tightness the cold created. All of them adjusted well at the turn to put us back in good position for an opportunity to win. Here at Rutgers, length is not important. To score well, you have to respect the green complexes and place shots in the right location. I feel good about the mindset of our players as the day progressed."
Upstate was remarkably consistent in posting the 293 in the first round. The Spartans counted a 71 by Matthew Hopper (Gaffney, S.C.) and rounds of 74 by Adam Goins (Gaffney, S.C.), Brad Sill (Spartanburg, S.C.) and Tyler Comer (Spartanburg, S.C.). Hopper is second individually at even-par, trailing Wilmington's Andrew Baldo, who carded a 69 in the first round. Upstate's Brian Horton (Boiling Springs, S.C.) finished with an 81 in the round.
Upstate is tied with Seton Hall for the team lead after the first round. Wilmington is third with a 295 and is followed by Fairleigh Dickinson (298), St. Peter's (300), Hofstra (306), Post (307), Rutgers (308), Fairfield (310), Adelphi (313), Wagner (316), Monmouth (317), Davenport (319), UMass-Lowell (319), Rider (319) and Wilmington "B" (328) in the 16-team field.
Hopper was strong throughout his first round and posted even-par in rainy and cold conditions. His 71 led a strong Spartan effort. He is two strokes out of first place and one shot ahead of several players at 1-over-par.
"Matthew led us off with a great round in the morning and was the first player off the tee at the coldest part of the day," said Lawton. "He hit great shots and put the ball in play. That was a textbook round of golf."
Although the second round is yet to be completed, it should be noted that the Spartans were solid in turning in an even-par 284. Goins birdied his last three holes to finish with a 69 and move into second place in the clubhouse with players still out on the course. Horton made a tremendous comeback, shooting 70 in his second round to lower his score by 11 strokes from the first round to the second.
"I know the afternoon round wasn't completed by the field, but I have to say that our improvement was dramatic and exciting. We are all looking forward to the final round tomorrow," said Lawton.