These days, the words “average” and “Harvard” can seldom be seen in the same place; the color of the Crimson is almost always one of excellence. But when it counted—in the Ivy League Championships—Harvard men’s golf could not live up to that standard, and the team finished toward the bottom of the Ancient Eight pack.
Despite dominating its competition at the Century Intercollegiate and finishing nine strokes shy of first place at the Northeast Invitational, the Crimson never quite seemed to get into the swing of things this season.
Harvard fell to sixth at the close of the Ivy League Championships, ending its campaign much like it began—in disappointment.
For Harvard, that unlikely adjective seemed to fit all too perfectly.
“Collectively, this season, on the whole, was just average,” coach Jim Burke said. “We played very well in some tournaments and not so well in some others, but overall, we were always right in the middle of the pack.”
Out of its nine contests this year, seven of the Crimson’s performances landed it just there.
Starting off the fall season against Princeton and Yale, Harvard finished second among the three rival schools. But the next week, the Crimson finished seventh out of a 15-team field that included the Tigers, who finished 2nd on the day, as well as the Big Green, who came in 12th.
In fact, until a strong second-place showing at the Northeast Invitational, the Crimson continually failed to crack the top tier of competitive play, placing 7th out of 14 at the MacDonald Cup and 12th out of 21 at the Big 5 Invitational.
Still, for Burke and his squad, there remained much to take away from their fall campaign.
“There were definitely bright spots,” Burke said. “We put up a lot of great individual performances, but we just never managed to get everything together at once.”
Junior captain Tony Grillo led Harvard by example, finishing among the top three from his team in every tournament. He paced the team and finished third overall at the Northeast Invitational.
The freshman pair of Theo Lederhausen and Seiji Liu also strung together some strong results. Lederhausen tied for fifth among individual players with his even-par performance at the MacDonald Cup. Liu beat both of his match-play opponents in Crimson’s first contest, and he tied for third overall at the Big 5 Invitational after posting a score of one-over par.
Come springtime, the changing weather hardly meant a change for Harvard’s season. While individual players continued to shine, the squad struggled to break from mediocrity.
“We never had a shortage of really talented golfers,” Burke said. “Day in and day out, the juniors showed great leadership and the freshman kept improving. But we played poorly as a team.”
At the Yale Spring Opener, junior Mark Pollak’s stellar play tied him for first place among individuals, but the team’s combined 609 strokes only landed the team a 4th-place finish in a ten-team field.