Goins Wins Back-to-Back Titles at Rutgers, Leads Upstate to Team Championship
Piscataway, N.J. – USC Upstate picked up three shots on the final two holes to hold off a hard-charging Rutgers team and Gaffney, S.C., native Adam Goins delivered on the final hole of the tournament as the Spartans won the team championship at the Rutgers Invitational and Goins claimed the individual title for the second year in a row.
Upstate was 3-under over the last two holes and that made the difference as Upstate finished with a three-stroke victory over Rutgers. Goins stood on the 18th tee tied with Eric Edmunds of St. Peter's, one of his playing partners. Despite hitting the ball into trouble off the tee, Goins recovered to make par while Edmunds bogeyed as the junior won back-to-back tournament titles in the event.
Goins won the Rutgers Invitational last year in a playoff with teammate Tyler Comer. This year, he didn't need any extra holes, winning it on the final hole. It marks his third career victory. The Spartans won the team championship for the third time in five appearances in the tournament, including the event last year.
"It feels pretty good to win the championship again," said Goins. "Yesterday, I got off to a really good start. I got the putter going early. I hit the ball really well. I stayed patient all day and put the ball on the green to give me a chance. Standing on the 18th tee today knowing I was tied was pretty cool. I didn't feel any pressure and just tried to approach the hole the same way I had throughout the tournament."
"Yesterday, Adam finished the day 6-under. Today, he had a bunch of 10 and 20-foot birdie putts that didn't fall. It was an impressive tournament and I am proud of him and the effort he gave," said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton.
Upstate began the day two strokes back of St. Peter's and Monmouth. The Spartans shot a 296 as most of the scores were higher in tougher conditions Saturday. The effort was good enough to hold off a hard-charging Rutgers squad. The host Knights shot a 292, but finished three shots back of Upstate as the Spartans took the title. St. Peter's fell to third after shooting 303, while Monmouth fell to fifth.
"It was a tough day today and fortunately we came out on top," said Lawton. "Two things stood out. One, Adam played well all three rounds. Two, we were playing with both teams who were ahead of us top start the day. It was almost like a match play situation. The hole locations were the toughest in five years and the greens were playing very firm. I am just really excited about the performance and getting this win."
Upstate won the tournament with an 874 total over 54 holes. Rutgers was second at 877 and was followed by St. Peter's (879), St. Thomas Aquinas (888), Monmouth (890), Fairfield (896), Fairleigh Dickinson (898), Adelphi (899), Seton Hall (900), Lafayette (919), Manhattan (922), Daemen (934), Rider (941), Wagner (957) and St. Francis (1010).
Goins, who led the tournament in par-4 scoring (-3) and with 39 pars, shot a 74 Saturday to win the tournament with a 210 total. He won by a single shot over Edmunds.
While Goins' win was the main individual storyline for Upstate, the play of freshman Ryan Cornfield (Dudley, England) made the difference in the Spartans winning the team championship. He shot a 2-under 69 to lead the Spartans Saturday. It was the only round under-par shot in the final round, bettering the next best score by two strokes. He finished the tournament tied for seventh with a 219 total.
"I couldn't be more proud of Ryan and the way he has started the season for us," said Lawton. "The team had to score over three rounds for us to win the championship. But, when you shoot the lowest score on the day and cover the field by a couple of shots, it was a tremendous effort that made the difference."
Upstate placed two other players in the Top 20 in the tournament. Brad Sill (Spartanburg, S.C.), who shot a 78 Saturday, finished tied for 16th with a 223 total. Matthew Hopper (Gaffney, S.C.) finished tied for 20th with a 224 total after shooting 76 Saturday. Brian Horton (Boiling Springs, S.C.) shot a 77 in the final round as the fourth countable score and finished the tournament with a 233 total.