Harvard men’s golf rode out a rollercoaster of a year. Tasting its sweetest victory at the Yale Spring Opener but suffering bitter defeats, particularly in the fall, the young team will return all golfers next year to try to put together more quality rounds.
Junior Michael Shore captained the Crimson and led it to its first-ever win at Yale in the program’s 33-year history. He took top honors, bursting out of a 12-way tie at 14th place after day one to shoot a 70 and tie for first place on Yale’s notoriously tricky course.
Harvard won the tournament by three shots over Skidmore, and host Yale nestled into a disappointing seventh place.
The victory was the first for Crimson coach Jim Burke and certainly the capstone of an otherwise less-than-stellar season.
“I thought down the stretch we played tremendously well—even par on the last three holes, and it probably won us the tournament,” sophomore Greg Shuman said. “When you perform that well under pressure, it’s a thing to see.”
The team had a less-than-auspicious start to the year, finishing 18th in a field of 18 schools at the McLaughlin in September. Rallying to take fifth at the MacDonald Cup at Yale and then ninth at the fall’s focal point, the ECAC Division I Championships, the team had yet to see a player make a top 15 individual finish.
Before the close of the fall season, Harvard made one last tournament appearance at the Don Mershon Classic, finishing fifth out of eight schools as sophomore Peter Singh finished ninth overall. Five shots off the lead, Singh carded a 76 on day two, just one off the tournament leader. Shore and Shuman tied at 14th, a harbinger of higher finishes to come.
Though golf is essentially an individual game, the team began to feed off each other.
“If one of us improves, we all improve,” Shore said. “It’s on everybody to play better. Even in practice, if one guys plays better, everybody starts playing better.”
In the spring, the team began to hold its own. As the Crimson finished second at the Fairfield Invitational at Myrtle Beach, Shore placed fourth, just three shots off the co-champions from Lewis University. Shuman finished ninth, just two shots behind Shore. Sophomore Danny Mayer also earned his first top-20 finish of the year.
After this, the Crimson enjoyed its victory at Yale, but had to quickly gear up for the New England Division I Championships the next week. Harvard slipped to fourth as Yale, which led both days, took the championship.
Mayer continued to establish himself, taking home an impressive fourth-place finish, matching the daily low round on day two. Shore tied for 10th and Shuman for 20th.
“Danny’s played well,” Shore said. “He’s been the low finisher a couple times. He put together a bunch of great rounds. He has a solid overall game.”
A win at the Ivy Championships was certainly the ultimate goal, and, after success in the spring, it did not seem to be so far out of reach.
“I think we’re kind of disappointed with our finish at Ivies,” Shuman said. “We had some ups and downs—we need to be more consistent as a team throughout the year.”
Shuman finished 10th, Mayer 11th, and Singh 20th overall, but this was not enough to catapult Harvard beyond another fourth-place finish behind Ivy champion Columbia, second place Yale, and third place Penn. Harvard was certainly within reach—a mere two shots out of third place and just three out of second.
“We had a good spring, but we can’t be pleased,” Shore said. “We can’t be complacent.”
—Staff writer Elizabeth A. Joyce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.