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After a disappointing start to the spring season, the Harvard women’s golf team failed to do much better in the first round of this weekend’s Spring Brown Bear Invitational, tallying a score of 306.
But something clicked for the Crimson yesterday.
Dropping 15 strokes, Harvard scored a 291, tied for the lowest mark of any school on the tournament’s final day.
The Crimson’s strong second day propelled the squad to a second-place finish, eight strokes behind Princeton in the two-day tournament at the Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, R.I.
“I’m super pleased with how this weekend went,” captain Mia Kabasakalis said. “Obviously, a win would’ve been extra awesome, but the way today went, it felt like a win. We all just played phenomenally well today.”
Harvard’s performance in this week’s tournament comes after a tough eighth-place finish in last weekend’s Georgetown Invitational.
“We were extra motivated [this week] because we didn’t play as well as we would have liked last week,” said freshman Bonnie Hu, a Crimson business comper. “We were more focused about what we needed to work on and what we needed to get done.”
Perhaps no one turned around her game more than Hu. In her past three competitive matches, the freshman had logged a 79, an 82, and an 80, the three worst scores of her collegiate career. But in the tournament’s first day, Hu shot a team-low 74 and didn’t look back, shooting a 74 again the following day.
For the rest of the team, the tournament’s opening round was unremarkable, as the rest of the Harvard roster shot between a 77 and an 80.
After the tournament’s first day, a win would’ve been difficult, as the Tigers shot a 287 to take a commanding 18-stroke lead on second-place Yale.
“Princeton crushed it [Sunday],” Kabasakalis said. “We all knew that we needed to play really well.”
And that’s exactly what Harvard did.
Other than Hu, each Crimson player dropped her score by at least two strokes in the second day. Junior Christine Cho shot a 74, her best score since September, while freshman Fritzi Reuter had a career-best 74.
“Fritzi played great,” Kabasakalis said. “She missed a couple of short putts towards the end or she [would’ve] easily been under par.”
In fact, the team’s worst score yesterday would’ve been its second best on Sunday, and the Crimson threw out a 76 on the tournament’s final day.
“If we do that ever, that’s just a great day,” Kabsakalis said.
For Harvard, it was Kabasakalis who stole the show. The senior had a career-best two-under 70, and her two-day total of 147 was good for fifth-place overall.
But Kabasakalis’ day didn’t begin on the right foot.
Thanks to a three-putt and a mishit bunker shot in the first few holes, the senior found herself two over coming into the eighth hole.
“I started off with a couple of really, really stupid bogies,” Kabasakalis said.
An eagle on the eighth brought her back to even par. From there, she kept up her high level of play, draining three more birdies during the rest of her round.
“[Yesterday] felt awesome,” Kabasakalis said. “It was just fun to play. It felt easy. I just hope that I can keep that up in two weeks time.”
At least a portion of the team’s improvement from the first day to the second can be attributed to a change in conditions and an increase in familiarity with the course.
“It was kind of windy [Sunday],” Hu said. “But also, [yesterday], we knew what to expect when it came to the course. It’s easier when you’ve played a course a couple of times already.”
But mentally, something seemed to fall into place after Sunday’s round as well.
“Honestly, everyone felt more confident today,” Kabasakalis said. “[Sunday]’s scores—they were decent, but almost everyone came off the course and was like, ‘I could’ve dropped at least five shots.’ So people knew they could play well.”
From here, the team shifts its attention to the Ivy League Championships in two weeks. To win, the Crimson will have to beat tough Princeton and Yale teams and, perhaps more dauntingly, snap a year-long winless streak.
But if Harvard plays like it did yesterday, the team has upset potential come April 22.
“We’re moving in the right direction, and we’re going to do our best for Ivies,” Hu said. “All the practice we’ve been putting in has been paying off. Everything’s coming together.”
—Staff writer Robert S. Samuels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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