Following its first-place victory at the Ivy League Championships, the Harvard women’s golf team faced the toughest set of competitors that it has seen this season at the NCAA Central Regional. Posting a final team score of 943 (+ 79), the Crimson placed 18th out of 24 teams at the Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University.
Harvard was ranked 22nd out of the 24 teams. Even though the team exceeded expectations, only the top eight teams can advance to the NCAA Finals, and the Crimson’s season came to a close this past weekend.
“I feel like everyone thought that they left a couple shots out there today,” coach Kevin Rhoads said. “We let two teams pass us from where we stood, but we still exceeded our rankings by four positions.”
Southern California won the tournament with a score of 874 (+10).
“We were really excited to play at Regionals because it’s such a big tournament with a strong field of competitors,” freshman Tiffany Lim said. “We’ve never really been in a position like that before, so we were just going into the tournament hoping to play our best.”
It had been four years since Harvard had played on this same course. The Crimson had finished in 19th place in 2008.
“It’s a championship course because of its nature, which means all stages of the game are tested on a course like this.” Rhoads said.
Windy conditions and fast greens made the first two days of the tournament tough. Harvard found its problems to be in its putting and short game. The Crimson notched a Thursday score of 315 and Friday score of 317.
But Harvard was able to capitalize on the weather change and a new familiarity with the course on the last day. The Crimson shot Saturday score of 311, which was its best of the weekend.
“We were able to get used to the course more after playing it a couple times,” captain Christine Cho said. “Even though Ivies wasn’t a long time ago, I think in between that tournament and this tournament, some of us weren’t able to practice as much as we wanted to.”
Coming off her ninth place finish at the Ivy League Championships, Lim tied for 23rd place this weekend, notching Harvard’s lowest individual score of 227. Lim who had been named Ivy League Rookie of the Year this season, had her best day of the tournament on Thursday with a score of 73 (+1). Lim came back from a 79 (+7) on Friday to shoot a 75 (+3) in the third round. Lim was only five shots shy of individually qualifying for NCAA Finals.
“As a freshman to play the way that she did is fantastic,” Rhoads said. “She was seventh out of the individuals that weren’t on the top eight teams. She had an outstanding year, and she’s an outstanding player.”
Sophomore Bonnie Hu came in next individually for the Crimson, tying for 75th. With an overall score of 238, Hu, who is also a Crimson business editor, shot three birdies on the weekend. Hu had her best day on Saturday, shooting a 76.
Freshman Brenna Nelsen notched a score of 240, giving her the tie for 88th place. Coming in third for Harvard, Nelsen shot an 81 in the third round.
Senior Jane Lee tied for 96th place, tallying an overall score of 242. Helped out by two birdies in the third round, Lee pulled a score of 79, her lowest of the tournament.
Captain Christine Cho was ten places behind Lee with a score of 248. Cho mirrored her teammates with a low score of 79 (+7) in the second round of play.
“The people that set up the pins put them in really tricky places, so if you [shot] for the pin it could end up either really good or really bad,” Lim said. “As we played the course more and more, we realized that if we played it smart we get better scores.”
Crimson players said they found its lack of practice time to have been a problem leading up to Regionals. With the tournament falling during finals period, the team struggled to prepare as much as it could.
“They earned their way here, which is representative of their really good season overall,” Rhoads said. “It takes a lot of preparation, but we did not have as much as we needed to advance.”