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The Crimson linksters returned yesterday from an idyllic spring trip to Florida and the Eden-like environs of Flagler College and proceeded to win their first match of the regular season, nipping Tufts this afternoon by two strokes over the Stow Acres golf course.
The tree-lined fairway of the 18th hole at Stow Acres isn't exactly the same as Magnolia land at Augusta National, but when freshman Jim Dales floated his approach to within seven feet of the flagstick, Harvard had the match sewn up.
The real surprise of the afternoon was Peter Smith, who carded a 77 playing in the seventh and last spot on the roster. Smith, who coach Bob Donovan termed "a notoriously slow starter," was in less than midseason form down in Florida but managed to card his trouble free round yesterday without hitting a single wood.
Alex Vik, playing in an unaccustomed third slot, was tourney medalist with a one under par 71. Playing number one, Dave Paxton, the self-styled "Prince of Paducah," fired an 80, as did Dales. Gene Purdy, who appeared at the first tee decked out in plus fours and argyles, lost his putting touch but not his self-dignity on the way to a 90.
"We had played so many unbelievably tough courses in Florida that our guys were exhausted," said Donovan to explain the narrow margin of victory. The trip was vaunted as an all-around success by the linksmen, who were smothered by the conviviality of head coach "Hoops" Thebault and his Flagler golf squad.
Donovan's charges were greeted by a "Welcome Harvard Gold Team" banner draped over the front of the Ponce de Leon Inn and were then squired in a limousine to play Flagler on the Sawgrass golf club.
Sawgrass' reputation as one of the orneriest eighteens in the country was recently enhanced when the pro circuit touched down there this year for the Tournament of Players Championship. The average round for the tourney was an 81 and one-sixth of the field voluntarily withdrew.
After struggling to stay in double figures at Sawgrass, the Crimson contingent managed a fourth place finish in the Saddlebrook Tournament held at Zephyrhills, Florida. Donovan put the showing in perspective when he said, "the first nine holes were carved out of a jungle. If you go in there you have to take a machete because there's nothing but water moccasins."
After limping in with an 87 at Sawgrass, Vik had little trouble in the relatively short Stow Acres layout garnering five birdies for his 71.
He had his eagle putts spin out of the cup on the sixth and 14th, a pair of par fives. Vik came within a heartbeat of acing the 181-yd. 15th hole when he slapped a six-iron onto the punchbowl green within three feet of the cup.
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