In a storybook ending to her Harvard career, women’s golf captain Merry Chiampa won the top individual honors at the Northeast Championships over the weekend, firing an 82-73—155 to lead the Crimson to a first-place finish in the team’s final action of the 2003-2004 season.
Trailing Wellesley’s Susan Choi and BU’s Leah Johnson by two strokes heading into the final round, Chiampa began her charge to the top of the leaderboard with a miraculous hole-in-one on the fifth hole.
“When I hit it, Coach yelled ‘Go in!’” said Chiampa. “It’s kind of a joke, because he always yells it. But this time, it actually went in.
“It was my first hole-in-one ever. It was like it was meant to be.”
After more impressive play left Chiampa alone in first place, her fortunes began to shift as she recorded consecutive bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes. But the lone senior on the team was unfazed by the slip-ups, as she sunk a birdie on the 17th hole before firing “the three-wood of her life” on the 18th, leaving the ball just 10 feet from the pin.
With the luxury of a now-insurmountable lead over Choi, Chiampa walked towards the green—where her teammates and her parents all waited for her—knowing that she had won the final tournament of her Harvard career.
“Walking up the 18th fairway, it all kind of hit me,” Chiampa said. “I almost started crying.
“It was pretty much perfect.”
Inspired by their captain, Chiampa’s teammates also played some of their best golf of the year, as Harvard’s score of 315 yesterday was an all-time low for the team, according to Chiampa. Overall, the Crimson recorded a 332-315—647 to finish 34 strokes ahead of second-place BU.
“Merry gave us a little talk [before we teed off yesterday],” junior Carrie Baizer said. “We were all very emotional. We’ve been so lucky to have her on our team, and it’s so great for her [to win].”
Remarkably, the most inexperienced member of the squad—freshman Erin Wilson—had the best weekend of any Harvard player save Chiampa, as she fired an 83-78—161 to finish third in the tournament.
“Erin was awesome,” said Baizer. “It’s good to know that our underclassmen are going to be able to step in for us.”
Junior J.J. Kang carded an 82-82—164, sophomore Jen Cronan fired an 85-82—167 and Baizer recorded an 89-88—177 to round out the scoring for the Crimson.
Impressively, while Harvard’s first-place finish in the Northeast Championships was cause for celebration, it was not the team’s only victory of the weekend, as the Crimson also competed in—and won—the Massachusetts State Invitational on Friday.
Harvard shot a 323 to finish 18 strokes ahead of runner-up Amherst. The seven-team Massachusetts State Invitational featured many of the same colleges that the Crimson also bested in the 13-team Northeast Championships later in the weekend.
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