Weak Day One Stifles Crimson

Despite great conditions, Harvard can’t recover after tough start

The Harvard men’s golf team regrouped after a lackluster day one to make a solid appearance at the Big Five Classic in Philadelphia this weekend. Nearly every player’s scores plummeted on day two, earning the Crimson a ninth-place finish ahead of both Cornell and Penn, the host of the tournament.

A standout performance by freshman Mark Pollak anchored the team. With individual scores of 71 and 77, the recruit was the only player not to blink on day one.

“My game had been finally turning around, and I was pretty confident going in,” Pollak said. “I kind of had my game going. I had really been struggling around the greens, since the short grasses are different up here from what I was used to back in Texas, but I finally started getting it together.”

Favorable weather conditions and familiarity with the course both contributed to the success of the Texan.

“I had seen the course before when I visited Penn, and immediately I really liked it. It reminded me of a course I played back in Texas,” he said. “It was designed by the same guy, so it had a familiar layout to me and the location of the bunkers and how the greens were shaped resonated with my prior experience.”

A. W. Tillinghast designed the Flourtown course in 1922, which is renowned for its history as part of the oldest country club in the U.S. and also feared for its difficult par-4s, 9 and 18.

“The 18th hole is really tough coming in. It’s a long par 4 and gave a lot of people problems coming in,” junior Nick Moseley confirmed. “The course has very subtle greens, and so the putting was very tough. It was tough to make a lot of putts, but it had a really good layout.”

Temple University won the tournament, shooting a consistent 295-292 over the two days. Harvard finished 19 shots out of the lead, just two shots ahead of 10th place Penn. The only other Ivy competitor, Cornell, finished 15 shots behind the Crimson and well out of serious contention.

Junior Greg Shuman turned in a more than respectable top-20 finish this weekend, tying for 17th and shooting 77-72. Senior John Christensen carded 83-74, and Moseley finished with a matching 81-76.

Freshman Tony Grillo competed for Harvard as well this weekend, carding 81-75.

“They’re doing great,” Moseley said of the freshmen. “Both of them were very good recruits. Mark played especially well in this tournament, and Tony has been playing really well, too. They’re good players.”

Junior Danny Mayer competed as an individual, shooting 80-82 over the weekend.

The majority of these scores reflect the rally that took place among the players before round two.

“They had a really tough first day but came back the next day,” Pollak said. “Both days were pretty much under ideal conditions, they were practically perfect. The course even played harder the second day, so it’s clear they really got their games together.”

“We went out with more of an aggressive mindset on the second day,” Moseley explained.

Looking ahead, the team hopes to replicate day two and bury the memory of day one when it travels to Lehigh in two week.

“Hopefully we’ll be ready and have a good first round that won’t take us out of contention like it did this weekend,” Moseley said.

—Staff writer Elizabeth A. Joyce can be reached at