While the Masters wrapped up yesterday, the Harvard men’s golf team was taking on a deep 14-team field at Springdale Golf Club for the Princeton Invitational.
And as the Crimson golfers finished up at the 18th green and the results rolled in, Harvard might have felt a bit like an unsuccessful Tiger Woods did in Augusta. Having enjoyed the comforts of first place last weekend at the Yale Spring Opener, the Crimson could only watch from eighth place while Yale—a team it beat a week before—coasted to a second place finish. Rutgers won the invitational.
“We know that we’re right there with them,” rookie Tony Grillo said of Yale. “It matters who comes out to play. Columbia and [Yale] are the top two right now, and I’d throw us in that category.”
Harvard—represented by juniors Greg Shuman and Danny Mayer, seniors John Christensen and captain Mike Shore, along with Grillo—finished at 619 strokes in the two-day 36-hole tournament.
The weekend was intended to go 54 holes, but heavy rains on Saturday cut it down.
“The weather was very difficult [Saturday], so it’s hard to have any expectation,” Shuman said. “You just go out there and do the best you can. [Sunday] was chilly, but very windy, so it was also pretty difficult.”
Despite having to compete with the conditions, Shuman had a brilliant Saturday round, finishing the day atop the leaderboard with 70 on the par-71 course.
“When your playing the game of golf, you’re kind of expecting [the possibility of poor conditions],” Grillo said. “Shuman’s 70 was awesome considering the conditions.”
“I played well in the bad weather, and then we had a rain delay for about three hours,” Shuman said. “Coming out I played a little slowly for a few holes and then got increasingly better. I played well when the weather was nicer out, which is nice to see.”
On Sunday, Shuman slipped to six over par to finish the weekend at +5, good enough for third overall.
Christensen was the second-place Crimson competitor, finishing tied for 38 at 16 over, shooting 82 on Saturday and 76 on Sunday. Mayer and Shore shot 81-78 and 75-84, respectively, both finishing +17 to take a share of 44th. Grillo rounded out the Harvard field with a two-day total of 164 (78-86) to finish 22 over par.
“It was tough conditions,” Shuman said. “We managed to play pretty well on Saturday, and [on Sunday] I felt like we took a step backwards, which is frustrating. But it’s good to see where we stack up.”
After this weekend and with the league championship coming up in two weeks, the Crimson hopes to improve its position in the Ivy League—behind Yale, Penn, Columbia, and Princeton.
“We weren’t just competing with Yale.” Shuman continued.
“Everything is preparation for the Ivy League Championship, and obviously we need to improve to do well in that.”
Noticeably absent from Harvard’s weekend roster was freshman phenom Mark Pollak, who got the week off so he could have a free weekend—amidst the heavy, weekly schedule of golf’s spring season—to focus on his academics.
“Coach told the team that he didn’t really want anyone to get overwhelmed with four tournaments in a row,” Grillo said.
Pollak, who topped the Crimson list in the first two spring tournaments—GEICO Intercollegiate and UC Riverside—will be an integral part of the rest of Harvard’s efforts this spring and in the future.
“We went out there and obviously not having Mark...it was a handicap right from the start,” Grillo said. “We just wanted to show that our games were in form.”
“Next week, we’ll have Pollack back so it’ll probably be a better indication of where we’re at,” Shuman said.
—Staff writer Dixon McPhillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.