Last weekend, the Harvard men’s golf team entered the final round of the Princeton Invitational with a 14-stroke lead before watching it nearly slip away. This weekend, however, the Crimson ensured that there would be no such closing-round drama.
After building a 15-stroke lead in the first round of the Yale Invitational, Harvard cruised to its second consecutive victory, shooting a 573 on the day and besting the second-place Bulldogs by 13 strokes.
“We’ve been working on all the right things for a long time, and this was a long time coming,” sophomore Rohan Ramnath said. “You knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of time.”
Leading the way for the Crimson was captain Theodore Lederhausen, who shot just one-over par in both rounds of the 36-hole tournament. The senior’s score of 142 earned him second place, his best finish as a member of the team to date.
Right behind their captain, junior Akash Mirchandani, sophomore Un Cho, and freshman Robert Deng all shot 144, tying for fifth. Mirchandani led the pack after the first round, shooting a one-under 69, while Deng and Cho shot 70 and 71, respectively. All three of their scores rose in the second round, but only slightly, allowing the Harvard trio to notch a top-five finish.
The performance of the day, however, belonged to Ramnath. Competing as an individual, the sophomore shot one-under for the tournament, topping the leaderboard for the first time in his collegiate career. After shooting five-over in the opening round, Ramnath played some of his best golf in the second, shooting a six-under 64.
“I think that I played really well the whole day,” Ramnath said. “It’s just that in the morning, I couldn’t really make putts…. It was a little bit frustrating, but I stuck with it, and in the second round they, just started falling.”
The win for Ramnath marks the second consecutive week that a Crimson golfer has claimed the individual crown. Mirchandani earned that title last weekend, shooting eight-under par at the Princeton Invitational. With the win, the junior ended a three-year drought in which no Harvard golfer took home an individual championship.
Also competing as individuals, senior Seiji Liu and freshman Kendrick Vinar joined many of their teammates the top 15. In his first action of the spring, Liu was the sixth Crimson golfer to finish in the top eight, finishing with a three-over 73 in both rounds. Vinar was just as consistent, shooting a 74 in both rounds, good for 13th place.
“[Having six guys in the top eight] is a crazy result, and that kind of thing will rarely, rarely happen, but I just give credit to the guys,” Harvard coach Kevin Rhoads said. “It’s not like [this result] is going to happen all the time, but I’m not overly surprised [since] their internal competition is so high.”
The result did not come as much of a surprise after the Crimson jumped out to a substantial lead over the 11-team field in the morning, continuing the team’s season-long success in the opening rounds. In fact, Harvard has now recorded its best score in the first round in all but one of the six tournaments that the team has competed in this season.
“We’ve been getting off to very good starts, which is very convenient,” Rhoads said. “We talk so often about our process—our controllable things—and the whole goal is to keep doing those things to the best of our abilities. Then, the results really will take care of themselves.”
The Crimson has now finished in the top five in six of its seven competitions on the season. In addition, this year marks the first time that Harvard has earned two team victories in a season since the 2008-2009 campaign.
Besides the Crimson and the Bulldogs, only Hartford and Dartmouth managed to post sub-300 rounds at the Invitational. The two sides finished third and fourth, shooting 595 and 610, respectively.
Rounding out the Ancient Eight squads in its last tune-up prior to the Ivy Championships was Brown, which finished sixth with a stroke total of 617. According to Romnath, Harvard is happy to enter the championship weekend with momentum over its conference opponents, but the team is not taking anything for granted.
“Everyone’s just taking it one day at a time,” Romnath said. “It’s easy to get complacent, overconfident, or cocky, but I think we’ve been working towards this for so long that we know everything we need to do from here on is just [whatever] gives ourselves the best chance to win.”
—Staff writer Jake T. Meagher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.