Presumably, the Harvard men’s golf team doesn’t have Tiger Woods’s infidelity problems, but, unfortunately, neither did it have his sweet stroke this weekend.
The Crimson finished in third place at the Yale Spring Opener at Yale’s world-famous golf course on Saturday, ending the day a slim 10 strokes behind the Bulldogs and nine strokes behind Central Connecticut.
“This is the first tournament of the [spring] for us,” sophomore Tony Grillo said. “So it’s one to get the wheels moving. After the winter, it definitely takes a tournament or two to get back into it and prepare for the Ivy League Championship.”
Harvard was paired with the Bulldogs for the day, and the Crimson posted a total score of 592 in the 36-hole tournament.
On the first half of the course, Yale jumped out to an early lead from which the Crimson was unable to recover. The Bulldogs led by nine strokes at the midway point of the competition, but Harvard kept the match close.
A high point of the day was sophomore Mark Pollak’s strong performance and seventh-place overall finish.
Senior Greg Shuman, Grillo, and sophomore Connor Wentzell finished in the top 20 as well, with Shuman taking 16th and the sophomores tying for 19th.
Captain Danny Mayer rounded off the scoring for Harvard, finishing the day ranked 30th.
“We really just need to get ourselves [into] the game mindset,” Pollak said. “We’re all playing fine, we just don’t have the right attitude yet. We just need to get focused.”
Yale’s course, the top-ranked college golf course in the nation and the 71st-most difficult golf course nationally, proved to be very challenging for the Crimson. Though no golfer finished under par, Central Connecticut junior Justin Hughes won the tournament with an individual score of 141—a high score on most courses.
“It’s a very difficult course,” Grillo said. “[Yale] had it set up much harder than they normally do for this event, possibly because the weather was so nice. Nobody really took it very well...I don’t think any of us were really thrilled with how we played.”
Yale, enjoying a home-course advantage, was able to pull through and get the win, posting a final score of 582. Despite difficulties for Harvard, the beautiful 70-degree, sunny day provided great conditions for all of the golfers.
“We really lucked out with the weather,” Grillo said. “We normally actually have horrendous weather for this event, whether it’s raining or just really cold.”
Of the 11 teams present at the Yale Invitational on Saturday, three were Ivy League competitors—Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth. The Big Green finished the tournament two places behind the Crimson, earning fifth on the day with a score of 600.
In some ways, Saturday’s matchup serves as a preview for the upcoming Ivy League Championship that ends the golfing season in three weeks.
“As disappointing as it is [to] play poorly, it’s definitely a good thing to know that we’re right there,” Grillo said. “Luckily we get to play not only against Yale, but against most of the Ivy League teams for our final two tournaments.”
“[These upcoming tournaments] will really give us a good sense of who’s playing best and allow us to get a good look at the competition,” he added.
Prior to Saturday’s third-place finish, the Crimson had won the Yale Invitational for the past two years. Although the spring season did not start off as smoothly for Harvard this year, the team remains optimistic.
“It was our first event of the spring,” Pollak said. “We struggled to really feel like we were at a tournament today.”
The Crimson is looking forward to continuing its spring season with its last three tournaments. Luckily, there is still plenty of time for Harvard to improve its game in practice and ready itself for a chance at an Ivy League title.