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Harsh Weather Conditions Affect Crimson’s Play at MacDonald Cup

Sophomores Theodore Lederhausen and Seiji Liu, both to the right of Harvard coach Jim Burke (middle), placed in ninth and 37th place, respectively. Captain Tony Grillo, standing to the left of Burke, finished 29th overall.
Sophomores Theodore Lederhausen and Seiji Liu, both to the right of Harvard coach Jim Burke (middle), placed in ninth and 37th place, respectively. Captain Tony Grillo, standing to the left of Burke, finished 29th overall.
By James Dionne, Contributing Writer

The Harvard men’s golf team got off to a sluggish start on a wet and rainy day at the Course at Yale, playing its way to a fifth-place finish at the MacDonald Cup this past weekend.

The Crimson shot a collective 583 for the weekend and finished 23 over par for 36 holes, sharing the fifth spot with Sacred Heart.

An opening round 294 proved too much to overcome for Harvard, who struggled to maintain consistency throughout the weekend.

“We had a slow start to the tournament, pretty much as a team,” captain Tony Grillo said.

Grillo said the team shot poorly on the front nine on both days and had to play catch up the whole time.

Harvard’s struggles were also augmented by a particularly impressive performance by Yale, who came out strong from the start and shot 280 on Saturday.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a six-stroke lead over the field before cruising to a five-stroke victory over Princeton.

Harvard finished fourth out of the six Ivy schools competing, not including the Bulldog’s second team. Yale and Princeton were joined by Dartmouth in the top three of the competition.

Despite the struggles, Harvard did have some bright spots.

Senior Mark Pollak and sophomore Theodore Lederhausen tied for ninth place for individual golfers with a three-over 143, and both shot a one over par (71) on Sunday.

Both Grillo and sophomore Seiji Liu thought that the team improved its shots on the back nine, especially on the final day.

“Some of us got bad starts,” Liu said. “But over the last nine or so holes we got it together and played better down the stretch.”

Grillo specifically noted that over the last portion of the back nine on Sunday, a few key players really found their stroke.

Liu shot two under par over the last six holes, Pollak was three under over the last four, and Grillo shot three under over the last three holes.

Also, Grillo managed an impressive feat on the fifth hole on Sunday. The captain holed out on the par three in what proved to be an up-and-down day.

The last nine holes of the tournament boosted the confidence of many of the team’s golfers, according to Liu and Grillo. Both said they experienced problems with their technique throughout the weekend, and they felt that the end of Sunday helped clear those problems.

“I had several bad holes where I felt I had lost my swing,” Liu said. “But I felt good over the last seven or eight.”

The Crimson brought two other golfers: sophomore Michael Lai, who tied for 37th, and sophomore Kevin McCarthy who tied for 65th.

While the weather was a factor for all players, the Harvard golfers felt differently about how they thoughT the rain affected the course, which was voted the top college course in the nation by Golfweek last September.

“Wet weather—at least for Yale—makes the course more approachable,” Grillo said. “It made the course easier for everyone.”

He noted that putts rolled well on the green and fairways were easier to hit with the slick grass.

But Liu thought that the wet course was more difficult for people who hit higher approach shots.

He noted that low hitters might have an easier time with the fast speed of the greens, but overall, the rain made the course more challenging.

“The course conditions were terrible, and we had to work around that,” he said. “It was completely flooded.”

The rain did have a tangible impact on the tournament beyond playing conditions. Instead of playing 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday as originally scheduled, Saturday’s golf was delayed, and players only got in 18 holes.

But Liu hopes that the team can learn from its experience at Yale and fix its mistakes going into the Big 5 Invitational next weekend. It will be Harvard’s penultimate invite of the season.

“We have to work on our putting game a lot more,” he said. “As a team, we are as good as anyone out there. It’s just a matter of putting it all together for two or three rounds.”

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