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As the Harvard men’s golf team walks across the freshly cut grass of Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island, N.Y., this Sunday, it will not only be sporting new Swedish designer clothing but a fresh outlook on the upcoming season.
The Crimson will take part in the annual Harvard-Yale-Princeton match this weekend, which will provide an early test for a team that has added four strong freshman recruits to a roster that didn’t graduate a single person last year.
Top returners include senior Mark Pollak, who was named second-team All Ivy after taking 11th at last year’s Ivy League Championships.
Right behind him was sophomore Theo Lederhausen, who finished 13th at the event.
The team also welcomes Sam Barrington, Frederic Fisher, Jordan Mann, and Akash Mirchandani.
While in school in Workingham, U.K., Mann captained the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire County U18 Elite team as well as his school team at Wellington College.
“We are definitely confident going into this weekend with everyone returning from last year and are excited to get back out there,” Lederhausen said. “Our goal is to start off strong with a win over both Yale and Princeton.”
The Crimson is looking to improve upon last season and challenge the defending Ivy League champion Bulldogs.
“We all want to come out strong in our first outing and show how our work during the summer really helped to improve our game,” Pollak said.
The challenge that Harvard will face this weekend is one that they have prepared for all summer and fall.
“All of us worked on our game during the summer to try and improve different aspects of our game,” sophomore Michael Lai said. “We’ve even changed up our practice strategy some to become even more effective in the coming tournaments.”
Playing rival schools adds a certain fire to every tournament, even the first of the fall.
“Though this type of tournament is somewhat casual and friendly, we are going in with the mindset that we have to win to prepare us for the rest of the season,” Pollak said. “The goal is simple. Win.”
Yale and Princeton both finished above Harvard in the Ivy League Championship last year.
The Bulldogs won the tournament by 20 strokes. The Tigers, meanwhile, finished fifth, only four shots ahead of the sixth-place Crimson.
“Yale lost a key component of their team in the graduation of Tom McCarthy last year but they are still the defending champs and are going to be strong,” Lederhausen said. “That is why we have to prove ourselves with an early victory after this weekend.”
The Bulldogs still have a strong team, especially with the return of junior Brad Kushner and senior Jeff Hatten, who tied for fourth at last year’s Ivy League Championshiops.
Yale also welcomes back Ivy League Rookie of the Year Sam Bernstein, who was second team All-Ivy.
Harvard is looking to move up in the Ivy Leagues and challenge for the Ancient Eight title.
“We’re expecting and hoping to be the best in the Ivy League at the end of the season,” Pollak said. “We just have to go out and play our game every tournament and we will end up in the position that we want.”
Also on the horizon for Harvard this fall are the McLaughlin Cup in Farmingdale, N.Y., the MacDonald Cup at Yale, the Big 5 Invitational in Philadelphia, Pa., and the Windon Memorial Classic at Northwestern Univeristy in Stokie, Ill.
While the Crimson played in Farmingdale, N.Y., New Haven, Conn., and Philadelphia, Pa., last year, this year will mark Harvard’s first year at the Windon Memorial Classic.
“The Northwestern tournament will be a great opportunity for all of us because we will get to play against some of the best golf teams in the nation which will really help to show where we are at individually and as a team,” Pollock said.
Though its match with the Wildcats is in the distant future, the team has plenty to keep itself occupied in the meantime.
“If we maintain the dedication that we have had in the past few weeks, though it’s early to gauge, our team has some great potential, “ Lederhausen said. “This weekend will help us to get a feel of where we are at right now.”
—Staff writer Darren McLeod can be reached at email@example.com
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