This weekend, the Harvard women’s golf team headed to the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. to compete for the Ivy League championship.
The Crimson was coming off of a strong outing at the Brown Invitational two weeks ago, in which the squad took first place in a field that included two opponents from the Ancient Eight and a number of other local teams.
That momentum seemed to carry into this weekend’s events, as the team posted a total score of 900 strokes to win the title, coming in a full 21 shots ahead of second-place Princeton.
The victory marks Harvard’s third consecutive title and its fifth all-time. The Crimson’s three-peat is the first in Ivy League women’s golf history.
“[Junior] Brenna Nelsen and I have been on the team for all three of those years,” junior Tiffany Lim said. “So we’re very lucky to have witnessed all of these wins, and we’re really excited.”
Freshman Anne Cheng played a significant role in setting the tone early on for Harvard, shooting two under par in the first round. Her score of 70 was the best of any golfer on Friday.
Cheng’s teammates posted competitive scores on the first day as well. Sophomore Christine Lin and captain Bonnie Hu both posted 75 to put Harvard in the lead at 297 after one round.
Saturday proceeded in a similar fashion for Harvard. Cheng came through for the team again, finishing the second round at even-par 72.
“This week, my putting was a little better than it usually is,” Cheng said. “I was making a lot of medium length putts that I may not always make.”
In keeping with her performance thus far this season, Lim also had a strong day for the Crimson. She started the round with a birdie on the first hole, and she continued to swing well throughout the day, putting up three more birdies and a score of 70.
Cheng and Lim’s individual efforts led the team to another score of 297, putting it at a total of 594—18 strokes ahead of Princeton and Yale.
Sunday’s round saw higher scores across the board, which helped take some of the pressure off of Harvard as it looked to seal its victory.
While the Crimson’s scores increased as well, Harvard’s team play was still enough to solidify the top spot in the standings. Rounds in the mid-70s from Cheng, Lim, and Hu gave Harvard a score of 306, the best score of any team in the third round, sealing its Ancient Eight championship.
“The competition in the Ivy League has just been getting higher and higher every year,” Lim said. “We’ve had to shoot lower and lower scores just because the competition has been getting so strong. We’re continually looking to improve our own games and see how we do at Ivies every year, and we’ve been doing pretty well.”
After a weekend of strong putting and low scores, Cheng walked away as the individual champion. Her score of 217 was enough to hold off a late run from last year’s champion, Princeton’s Kelly Shon, who carded a 70 on Sunday to surge to second place after starting the day tied for eighth.
Cheng is the third Crimson golfer in program history to finish first in the tournament—the first since Hu in 2012—and was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
“It’s such a big honor to receive [that] award,” Cheng said. “[Sunday] was overall a happy day with many surprises.”
This is the third time in as many years that a Harvard woman golfer has received this honor, with Cheng following in the footsteps of current teammates Lin and Lim.
Other individual players were recognized for their performances at the tournament. Lim joined Cheng as a top-five finisher, earning both of them a first-team All-Ivy selection.
The top-10 finishers earned second-team All-Ivy honors, and Hu and Lin earned this distinction. Hu has earned All-Ivy recognition for the past three years.
From here, the Crimson will advance to the NCAA Regionals.
“The whole team is really excited, and we’re really excited to get ready for Regionals,” Lim said. “We feel like we have a real chance to be competitors this year.”