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Harvard Rookie Lim Excels Early in College Career

In her first match as a collegiate golfer, freshman Tiffany Lim led Harvard to a victory at the Yale Intercollegiate Tournament. The rookie finished three rounds tied with Yale’s Seo Hee Moon atop the individual leaderboard.
In her first match as a collegiate golfer, freshman Tiffany Lim led Harvard to a victory at the Yale Intercollegiate Tournament. The rookie finished three rounds tied with Yale’s Seo Hee Moon atop the individual leaderboard.
By Jacob D. H. Feldman, Contributing Writer

Stepping up to the 13th tee on the first day of her first tournament as a collegiate athlete, freshman Tiffany Lim could feel the pressure.

“Everyone in my group had been playing well the whole day,” Lim said. “On that hole, the girls in my group all hit it really close.”

Unfazed, the freshman phenom lined up her five-wood. Prior the shot, Lim remembered thinking, “OK, now it’s my turn. I need to step it up.” Step up she did, driving the ball like an arrow along the line suggested by her coach to within two feet of the hole, setting up an easy birdie opportunity.

Lim continued her strong play through the first round of the Yale Intercollegiate Tournament en route to an impressive score of 70, two under par and one stroke back of the lead. After establishing herself near the top of the leaderboard, she posted back-to-back 74s in rounds two and three.

By the final hole, Lim had put herself in position to win the tournament with a 12-foot putt that strayed just wide, putting her into a tie with Yale sophomore Seo Hee Moon. But Lim didn’t know about the tie and only found out after she had finished that there might be a playoff. After finding her spikes in the car and putting them back on while mentally preparing herself for a playoff round, it was announced that the winner would be decided by a scorecard playoff, meaning that the player with the higher score in the first round, Moon, would be awarded the victory.

“I was disappointed because I didn’t get a chance to prove myself,” Lim said of the anticlimactic finish. “But I was also really happy with the way I played and the way that the team played. I think the joy that I had of being part of the team that came together that weekend outweighed all of the disappointment surrounding the lack of a playoff.”

“You never know if someone is going to hit the ground running so while I’m not surprised at all by what she did, she exceeded expectations because I don’t expect that to happen on the first time out,” Harvard coach Kevin Rhoads said.

This was hardly Lim’s first time playing under pressure. Last summer, she successfully qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and went on to make the cut, finishing in 68th place.

“Playing in the U.S. Open was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she explained. “It was the peak of my golf game. It was everything I’ve been working for.”

Lim also has learned to perform under pressure in practice, where she and her team put stakes on routine drills.

“I like putting something on the line. Sometimes we’ll play for pushups, sometimes we’ll play for food after practice. It just puts a little bit of pressure on you, and it’s fun,” she said.

Lim started this tradition of adding competition to practice with current teammate sophomore Bonnie Hu, a member of the Crimson business board, back when they were in high school in Northern California.

“It’s something we’ve always done,” Hu said. “It prepares us for tournaments because there is actually something on the line.”

The two women first met while playing tournaments early in their high school careers and became friends.

“She was one of my best friends,” Lim said. “We basically grew up playing golf together. It’s really nice having her as kind of a mentor or older sister here that I can look to for questions.”

Lim first picked up a golf club at the age of eight. Early on, she played because she liked riding in the golf cart and because she enjoyed spending time with her father, Andy Lim. When she began playing tournaments at age 11, her father attended every tournament he could and often caddied for her.

Early on, he could see the elegance in the young player’s swing. “It had power and beauty,” he said in an email. Still, the process of growth was not straightforward or simple.

The Rolex Junior All-American put it bluntly: “When I first started, I was really bad. I was shooting high 90s, really bad.”

The Yale Intercollegiate Tournament was only the second tournament Lim had played in without her father watching. While Lim was thriving under pressure, her father was having trouble handling the anxiety.

“I did struggle to go to bed at the conclusion of the second round when I found out online that Tiffany was one stroke behind the leader,” he wrote.

Going into the tournament though, the accomplished golfer had some butterflies in her stomach.

“I was nervous because I knew I had a lot of expectations going into the tournament,” she said. “[But] I knew I was prepared,” she said. “And if I just played my own game everything would turn out fine.”

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