Following a dominant fall season, the Harvard women’s golf team returned to action this weekend, earning an eighth-place finish at the Ole Miss Rebel Intercollegiate in Oxford, Miss.
Competing against 17 other squads, several of which are among the top 40 teams in the nation, the Crimson was always in contention, finishing with a 21-over 885.
Leading the way for Harvard with one of her best outings of the season was sophomore Courtney Hooton. She finished tied for ninth, with a two-over 218 after shooting even par in the second round and posting two 73s on the par-72 Ole Miss Golf Course.
“She was a machine,” Harvard coach Kevin Rhoads said. “It’s not surprising to me that she did [so well]…but it’s a little surprising for most people given the amount of reps that we’ve had [for her] to be able to actually do that well. So I’m proud of Courtney.”
Besides Hooton, sophomore Christine Lin and freshman Anne Cheng also broke the top 40. After opening with a six-over 78 in the first round, Lin bounced back with a one-over 73 and an even-par 72 to tie for 32nd. Likewise, Cheng posted a six-over 78 in the second round but recovered with a one-over 73 and a two-over 74 to tie for 39th.
After Friday’s opening round, the Crimson found itself near the top of the pack. The team sat in fifth place with a score of 294, just five strokes off the lead and two behind second.
“All of the other teams, this was their third or fourth tournament of the spring season,” Rhoads said. “They’re coming in having played a bunch and as sharp as they can be, and we’re coming in really not sharp at all. So to be there [in that position] in the first round was really, really fun.”
Due to threat of rain, Sunday’s final round was moved up to Saturday, forcing the teams to play the final 36 holes of the tournament in one day. Harvard opened the day with a nine-over 297, maintaining its position in the fifth slot.
After the second leg of Saturday’s lengthy contest, however, the Crimson slipped three spots to eighth. Rhoads acknowledged that fatigue definitely played a factor in the match, but the Crimson actually fared better in the third round, matching its first-round score of 294.
“Everyone was holding their mental and emotional states together really well, but sometimes you just can’t bring back the physical and the technical [aspects of your game] if you’re a little extra fatigued,” Rhoads said. “But as the [third] round progressed, we actually were getting back on track really well, [and] we finished strong.
Taking first place in the tournament was Georgia Regents University, whicj shot a seven-over 871 as a team over the weekend. Jessica Haigwood carried the Jaguars, finishing under par in all three days and taking the individual title with a six-under 210.
Harvard finished fourteen strokes behind the Jaguars, but given that the Crimson has not been able to practice outside nearly as much as many other schools, Hooton was pleased with her team’s showing.
“In the weeks following our spring break trip, we couldn’t practice outside because it was still really cold, which is a disadvantage [against] other teams that can practice year-round,” Hooton said. “But we didn’t really let that affect us, and I think we put up a really strong performance.”
—Staff writer Jake T. Meagher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.