After its first look at Ivy opponents, the Harvard men’s golf team likes where it stands in the league: right at the top.
Traveling to New Haven for the Yale Spring Open, the Crimson edged out the hometown Bulldogs in Round 1 and took a decisive 10-stroke advantage in Round 2, finishing the nine-team open atop the leaderboard at 595. Yale settled for second at 610, and Dartmouth finished just behind non-conference opponent Skidmore at 614, good enough for fourth. Non-Ivy teams Hartford, Canisius, Niagara, Trinity, and Fordham also competed in the open.
“It was definitely the most exciting tournament weekend we’ve had this year,” freshman Mark Pollak said. “Mainly because everyone really started coming together and playing well.”
Having relied primarily on Pollak to lead the charge this season, Harvard got a big boost from its veterans, as senior John Christensen and junior Danny Mayer finished one-two.
“We’ve all been working really hard on our game,” Mayer said. “I guess practice paid off this weekend...Golf’s a game where one weekend you play great and the next you play not so great.”
Mayer had the daily low round in Round 1, shooting 70 on the par-70 course. But in Round 2, the Winter Park, Fla. native slipped a little, shooting 78 to finish at +8, good for second.
Though he took first, Christensen trailed after Round 1, having shot two over in the first round of play. In Round 2’s competition, Christensen dropped to five over, but nobody shot par or better in Round 2, so Christensen was able to move atop the pack at +7.
Junior Greg Shuman finished in a four-way tie for third, shooting 74 and 75 to finish just two strokes off the lead at +9.
Captain Michael Shore etched a spot in the next batch of finishers—a trio tied at seventh—with his 75 and 76 pairing that put him at +11.
In his first New England golf outting in the spring season, Pollak managed a 75 in Round 1, but slipped down to 82 strokes in Round 2 to finish at +17. The score put him in a three-way tie for 21st.
“I would put a lot of the blame on the weather,” said Pollak, a native of San Antonio, Texas. “The wind was blowing really hard. It went from rain to sun to rain and sun and everything in between. It was a constant battle with Mother Nature. I started poorly and ended poorly, which really destroyed my rounds.”
As a team, Harvard led the field in par-3, 4, and 5 scoring, averaging 3.32 shots on par-3s, 4.32 on par-4s, and an even 5.00 on par-5s.
Shuman and Christensen tied for second in number of pars with 22, while Shore tied for the lead in par-3 scoring, shooting a flat 3.00 on par-3 holes.
Proving it could compete with Yale— which, according to Mayer, is shaping up to be the frontrunner of the league—and Dartmouth, the Crimson now anticipates next weekend’s Princeton Invitational at the Springdale Golf Club to see how it can handle more Ivy League foes before the Ivy League Championships at the end of the month.
“We’re hoping to use this weekend as a springboard for the rest of the season,” Pollak said. “We realize we need to keep improving. We realize that all the Ivy teams will keep improving throughout the season so we know we need to improve more.”
“It’s nice to beat [Yale] initially going into Ivies,” Mayer said of the matchup with the Bulldogs that will be reprised next weekend and again at the Ivy League Championships.
—Staff writer Dixon McPhillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.