SEASON RECAP: Harvard Comes Up Short at Ivies

Team falters at Ivy Championships to end mediocre season

For a team that returned every player from last year, the men’s golf team certainly hoped to see a marked improvement over last year’s results. But when the season culiminated with the Ivy League Championships the last weekend of April, Harvard had to be disappointed. After finishing fourth in last year’s league championship, the squad slipped two spots to sixth this year.

“I think we accomplished a lot,” captain Michael Shore said. “We had two wins, which is pretty huge. Unfortunately, say it was a disappointment is an understatement.”

But all told, the team has high hopes for next season, as most of the squad’s major players will be returning next year.

“You’re going to have a solid core of players coming back next year,” Shore said. “You’re going to have four solid seniors, and we have one recruit coming in, so all the holes are going to be filled.”

Carrying the Crimson at the championship was junior Greg Shuman—recipient of the 2009 Alex Vik ’78 MVP Award—who finished tied for eighth at +4 on the par-70 Atlantic City Country Club course. Shuman competed in every tournament this season and consistently finished at or near the top of the Harvard competitors.

“Greg is the best player on the team,” freshman Mark Pollak said. “That showed consistently throughout the year. I know he was a little disappointed with how he did [at Ivies], but he’s definitely a better player than most of the guys that beat him. We’re looking for him to take it home next year, because he certainly has the ability.”

At the GEICO Intercollegiate, Shuman was third-best among the 14-team field on par-3 holes, averaging 3.08 strokes. Shuman was the Crimson leader at the MacDonald Cup in October and the Princeton Invitational in April, in addition to the league championship.

Harvard was further supported by the stellar play of rookie Mark Pollak, who led the Crimson in five of the 10 tournaments this season. In the 15-team Big 5 Invitational in October, Pollak finished tied for ninth, shooting 71 the first round and 75 the second. With his signature monster drives, Pollak dominated the field on long par-5 holes, leading all golfers with -4 on those holes.

“He’s a great ball striker,” Shore said of Pollak. “He has a very sound, solid game. To play any sport in college, it’s all about focus and priorities.”

At the Harvard-Riverside tournament at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., Pollak tied for the low round by shooting 74 in the tournament, where the Crimson got just narrowly edged out by the Highlanders, 307-305.

But losing Shore and fellow senior John Christensen—winner of the 2009 Rob Erickson ’01 Team Player Award—will surely cut into Harvard’s depth next season. Shore kicked off the Crimson’s season with a team-leading +5 at the McLaughlin—a tournament Harvard finished last in last season, improving to ninth of 18 teams this season.

Shore’s leadership was instrumental to the team as well.

“There is no question that we all have each other’s back,” Pollak said. “Mike definitely contributed to that connectivity, but he wasn’t afraid to get things done even if it challenged the will of the group at the time. He always steered us in the right direction, even if we didn’t want to.”

And Christensen was an integral part of Harvard’s first-place finish at the Yale Spring Opener at the beginning of April. His daily low round in Round 2 helped clinch his first-place overall finish and ensured the Crimson’s secure 15-stroke win over the Bulldogs.

“It was great to recognize John,” Shore said regarding Christensen receiving the Team Player Award. “Here’s a guy that played on the team for four years, has a great work ethic. Everybody was really happy to see him win.”

Despite losing the two seniors, Harvard retains freshmen Antonio Grillo and Connor Wentzell along with Pollak and sophomores Louis Amira and Timmy Wu. Juniors Danny Mayer, Nick Moseley, and Peter Singh will also return supporting Shuman. Next season, Mayer will assume the role of team captain, and together the squad will try to build off what it managed this season and improve on its place in the Ivy League ranks.

—Staff writer Dixon McPhillips can be reached at