The Crimson found itself in the middle all weekend. But it wasn’t necessarily in the fairways—Harvard finished in 12th place in a field of 22 teams, beating out four Ivy competitors.
Five Harvard golfers—captains Tony Grillo, senior Mark Pollak, sophomore Seiji Liu, and juniors Michael Lai and Theo Lederhausen—competed in the Philadelphia Big 5 Invitational that was held at Plymouth Country Club, a 6600-yard, par-70 course.
The Crimson took third among Ivies over the weekend, ending the Invitational 23 strokes behind the tournament champions Dartmouth and nine strokes behind fourth-place University of Pennsylvania. Harvard was able to outperform Ancient Eight rivals Yale, Princeton, Cornell, and Brown.
“Dartmouth played extremely well … but it was good to see that we finished ahead of four Ivy League teams,” Pollak said. “That is our base of self-comparison. The fact that we beat four of the Ivies is a good sign—it shows we are moving in the right direction.”
Though the Big Green easily defeated Harvard, the win by a familiar Ivy rival proved to the Crimson that the team can compete.
“It was definitely a tournament we could have won if we played well,” Grillo said. “We have very much been neck-and-neck with Dartmouth over the past year or so. We wish we could have played better.”
Although the team did not finish in the mix this weekend, the squad is not feeling a sense of desperation—the Crimson understands its standing and will continue to improve.
“We have tremendous potential to play a lot better, but things are not lining up right now,” Pollak said. “It does not have anything to do with the effort we are putting in—it’s just a matter of playing well at the right time.”
Grillo had the team’s best performance over the weekend, finishing in 25th place in field of 114 competitors. The captain played a solid round on Saturday, finishing one over par with four bogeys and three birdies.
But on Sunday, missed putts plagued Grillo, who finished seven over, only managing to birdie once on the day.
“It was very easy to overthink it,” Grillo said. “If you would have watched my round on Sunday, besides the putting, you would probably have thought that I played better than the first day.”
Pollak and Liu tied in the tournament, both shooting 150 over the two-day event, good enough for 38th-place overall.
Pollak started the tournament off slowly, shooting an eight-over 78 on the first day of competition, but he rebounded on Sunday with a two-over performance.
“I put myself through many bad places around the green,” Pollak said. “My short game is not good enough right now to allow me to make up those strokes.”
Lai and Lederhausen rounded out the Crimson squad, finishing in 66th and 97th place, respectively.
A constant theme for the Harvard team throughout the weekend was its short games. Players pointed out that putting was a particular challenge for the Crimson during the invitational.
Sebestian Backlund of Francis Mason won the tournament with an impressive showing on Sunday, shooting four strokes under par to finish two under for the tournament.
Two Dartmouth golfers—Peter Williamson and Joe Maziar—placed in the top five of the competition this past weekend. Williamson came in second place at one under, and Joe Maziar finished the tournament in fourth with an overall score of two over.
“The course was playing really tough,” Pollak said. “The greens were really fast and undulating.”