Freshman Mark Pollak lit up the leaderboard as the Harvard men’s golf team took third place at the Kelly Gutshall Invitational at Lehigh University. In the final tournament of the fall season, the Crimson, the only Ivy League school at the eight-team tournament, saw strong performances from young players despite miserable conditions on day one.
Play was suspended on day one after thunderstorms rolled in over the par-72 Bethlehem course and continued into the night.
“The course was an absolutely phenomenal course and well maintained,” Pollak said. “The greens were running very fast and it was clear from the practice round the greens were going to be the key to a good round.”
Though players agreed the course was fair, the weather was certainly not.
“On Saturday we were kind of surprised at how horrible the weather got,” Pollak said. “By my eighth hole, it started pouring with heavy winds. It turned into really tough golf weather. I had a putt on 11 where I was standing over the putt, I’m shaking because the wind so bad, it’s pouring, if I miss it I’m looking at a five footer coming back, and I’m thinking why am I doing this.
“The first day it was pretty windy and fairly rainy, kind of a steady drizzle that became an absolute downpour the last five or six holes,” sophomore Louis Amira said. “It’s physically tough to play in, but everybody had to deal with it and as a result pretty much everyone had high scores the first round.”
Penn State ran away with top honors over the weekend shooting 592 (299-293) with three players finishing in the top five individually. Penn State led both rounds of play. Siena College placed second but took 32 more strokes than the winning team. Harvard shot 626 (320-306) to finish just four shots out of second place.
“The second day was ideal and we played better,” Amira said. “Well, we played alright the second day and ended up finishing up third which shows the kind of up and down season we’ve had. It’s been a rollercoaster for us, so it’s been a little bit difficult.”
For the second tournament in a row, Pollak led the Crimson effort. Carding 154 (80-74) he tied for sixth place individually.
“Our freshmen have been great they’ve been a big part of our team, in a way that hasn’t been shown before,” Amira said. “Normally freshmen struggle adapting to Harvard and time management. These freshmen have handled it better than most—better than I did last year. They’ve been crucial to our success this year. They’re clutch and we’re looking forward to them picking up where they left off in the spring.”
Behind Pollak, Amira and junior Greg Shuman each shot 156 with identical scores in both rounds—78-78. These scores put Shuman and Amira at 11th place overall in the tough field. Freshman Tony Grillo shot 160 (84-76) which was good enough for 24th place and junior Nick Moseley shot 175 (90-85).
“The conditions were so difficult—80 that day was a great score. The fact that Lou and Shuman shot 78 was incredible,” Pollak said.
As Harvard took fifth place at last year’s tournament at the Saucon Valley-Weyhill Country Club, this year’s finish is indicative of a stronger team. Heading into the winter each player will tend to the individual aspects of each man’s game and look to start off the spring strong once the weather turns.
“Overall, I think we did real well we left a few out there but we’re going to take the positives from this round into the spring,” Pollak said.
—Staff writer Elizabeth A. Joyce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.