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The Harvard men's golf team entered the New England Intercollegiate Golf Championships at the New Seabury Country Club on Sunday and Tuesday with high hopes for success.
Despite a poor outing at last week's ECAC Championships, Harvard had displayed a great deal of talent throughout the year, and expected to bounce back this week with a high finish at New Seabury.
"We were definitely there to win the tournament," freshman Nick Saunders said.
At first, things looked good for the Crimson. Beautiful weather helped to subdue the Cape Cod course's daunting reputation and the team looked forward to the commencement of play.
But success wasn't in the cards for the Crimson; Harvard's aspirations were thwarted from the start by uneven performances. Harvard finished in 13th place--well off the leader board, but ahead of 32 other competitors.
"On the first day of play, we basically shot ourselves out of a chance to win," sophomore Alex Gonzalez said.
Indeed. Harvard's top golfers--including captain Joel Radtke--all turned in uncharacteristically lackluster performances on their first turn through the course.
Radtke shot an 80, junior Luis Sanchez and Gonzalez each shot an 81 and Saunders shot an 82. These scores add up to a disappointing 324--23 strokes behind Hartford's leading 301.
"We were unable to limit our mistakes on holes," Radtke said. "We all managed a lot of pars and birdies but on our bad holes we tended to shoot double or triple bogeys."
"Those results indicate that we played a high caliber of golf, and that we were held back only by mental lapses," he added.
These mental miscues meant that day two's better scores--Radtke shot a 77, while senior Jun Choo posted a 76--prevented the Crimson from significantly improving upon its initial position.
Radtke was glum about the Crimson's overall performance.
"The tournament was very disappointing," he said. "Talentwise, we are one of the best teams in the Northeast but we were just unable to play to our potential this week."
Nevertheless, Harvard's fall season, which concluded with this tournament, showed that the Crimson can be a top contender in the spring.
The overwhelming talent of Harvard's veterans, plus the rapidly improving play of freshman Saunders, points to a spring team that will be tough to topple.
"If we can develop better consistency from player to player, we will be very good," Radtke said. "When we're on our game, we can dominate the competition."
According to Radtke, the Crimson will spend the off-season cultivating that consistency and, as a result, will pose a formidable challenge to its spring opponents.
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