The Harvard men’s golf team had a chance at taking the Ivy League Championships in the last round of the weekend at the par-71 Galloway National Golf Club.
But a few too many shots did not go the Crimson’s way, and Harvard finished in fourth place overall, just five strokes behind the University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth, and three strokes behind third place Columbia.
Despite consistent play in the last two rounds, Harvard could not overcome stronger rounds from a very tight field, as the Quakers finally won the decisive sudden death playoff against the Big Green in Galloway, N.J.
“We knew it was going to be really competitive going in because a lot of teams were very close this year,” sophomore Theo Lederhausen said. “We knew it would come down to just a key few strokes, but we’re pretty disappointed. We lost by five; it’s [essentially] one stroke for each of us.”
Trailing Dartmouth and Columbia by 15 strokes and 11 strokes, respectively, entering the last round, the Crimson began to close the gap alongside Penn, with both surging towards the top of the leaderboard.
“We knew we had to do something very good to have a chance because 15 shots is quite a bit to make up,” Lederhausen said. “But the course is hard, so we knew that if we put up really good numbers, we’d have a good chance.”
Strong winds during the last few holes tightened the pressure, as the leading pair collapsed and Penn and Harvard continued their strong play.
“Maybe five or six holes into it, we realized we had a chance,” said captain Tony Grillo, who finished the weekend tied for seventh at +17. “And you start to feel that team pressure rather than that individual pressure. It’s a really cool feeling.”
But a score of 303 on the day was not enough to propel the Crimson into the tiebreaker, and the Ivy League title once again eluded Harvard.
A strong final round for Penn—294, the low of the weekend—and the play of individual champion Peter Williamson of the Big Green kept the Crimson from winning its first Ivy League title since 1975.
“This is definitely the closest we’ve come to winning since I’ve been here, and maybe in a long time,” Grillo said.
The pressure at the Ivies was something new for Harvard, and something that the team will look to build off of in the coming years.
“I think it’s really exciting that we were there,” Grillo said. “The whole team felt that feeling of being in the heat of the moment for the first at least in recent memory, so I think that’s really good for the guys behind me.”
“It’s an experience to take away from that we know we’re good enough to win the title so next season it’s going to be very exciting,” sophomore Seiji Liu added.
In the first two rounds, freshman Akash Mirchandani battled strong winds to lead the Crimson with scores of 77 and 72, finally finishing tied for seventh as well after an 81 in his third round.