The Course at Yale, the curmudgeonly host site of the Yale Invitational, proved a stern teacher for first-time visitor and Harvard freshman Jennifer Cronan one week ago. The rookie, competing in just her second college tournament at the time, finished tied for 51st place at 35-over-par.
But, as Cronan learned this weekend, there is an upshot to playing at Yale—golf gets a whole lot easier once it’s over.
The rookie made hay on the back nine at the Orchards in South Hadley, Mass., this Saturday, carding a tournament-low round of 75 as the Harvard women’s golf team claimed first place at the Mt. Holyoke Invitational.
Cronan’s performance, combined with junior Merry Chiampa’s round of 77 on Sunday, preserved Harvard’s first-ever team victory in a two-day event.
The Crimson just narrowly edged Long Island for the win, 644 to 645. Dartmouth finished third overall with 677 points.
The Orchards is familiar territory for Harvard—besides the Mt. Holyoke Invitational, the spring season’s Massachusetts Championship is also played there. Last year, Harvard scorched the course for an overall score of 334, a school record at the time.
But none of that mattered to Cronan, who was playing The Orchards for the first time. She hardly displayed any jitters, though, going two-under-par on the course’s last six holes, including birdies on two of the final three.
“My finish was really my strong point,” said Cronan, who wound up as the tournament’s fifth-place finisher.
“The course was challenging but fair,” she added. “I like to hit it a long ways and these greens were pretty forgiving when you didn’t hit the fairways.”
The remnants of Tropical Storm Isidore had washed out Friday’s scheduled tune-up round, but it hardly fazed the Crimson this weekend. Chiampa finished in a three-way tie for second place overall with an 82-77—159.
After triple-bogeying her first hole of the tournament, sophomore Jeen-Joo Kang bounced back to card an 80. She finished with a score of 163.
“The grounds were a little bit soggy but it didn’t bother us too much,” Cronan said. “The greens were not too slick.”
Junior Kathryn Kuchefski continued her consistent play since joining the team as a transfer, posting a 79-87—166. Also, sophomore Carrie Baizer shot a 87-83—170, while freshman Caitlin Hicks rounded out Harvard’s scorers with a 88-86—174.
Harvard held a three-stroke lead heading into the tourney’s final round, but the Crimson fell 12 shots off the pace it set on the first day. Cronan, who carded a second-round 85, slipped the farthest.
Still, Chiampa’s round—the best of anyone on Sunday—enabled Harvard to finish one stroke ahead of both Long Island and the Crimson’s previous best score for a two-day tournament.
Harvard is now idle for two weeks until the ECAC Tournament.
—Staff writer Brian E. Fallon can be reached at email@example.com.