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In its final tournament tune-up before the looming Ivy League Championships, the Harvard women’s golf team returned to its winning ways over the past weekend with some help from an unlikely source.
Senior Jane Lee turned in the two best rounds of her collegiate career, shooting a two-day total of 145 (+1) to finish in second place overall and lead the Crimson to a six-stroke victory at the 36-hole Roar-EE Invitational at Spook Rock Golf Course in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Host Columbia finished in second place with a 606 (+30), and St. John’s took third at 625 (+49). The only other Ivy team, Dartmouth, tied for sixth.
A total of 306 (+18) on Friday earned Harvard the top spot out of 15 competitors heading into Saturday’s final round, but it was anything but satisfied.
“A lot of us got frustrated because we were missing putts,” freshman Tiffany Lim said. “The greens were bumpy. The second day, we realized...we couldn’t control what the ball did after it left our club face.”
The squad then turned in a 294 (+8) to come away with its first multi-team tournament title since winning the Princeton Invitational in late September.
“Everyone worked really hard to keep their focus on the things they could control...and stayed committed to the shot instead of the score,” Lee said. “I think it was a good indication of where we’re headed as a team.”
The Lions were led by overall first-place finisher sophomore Michelle Piyapattra—the reigning league individual champion—who dominated the par-72, 6008-yard course on Saturday with a 69.
Lee’s standout performance, which placed her just one stroke behind Piyapattra, was more surprising. The veteran had not finished first on the team in competition all year and came into the tournament averaging a score of 80 per round.
But after turning in a 75 Friday, Lee came back with a 70 the next day to take home the silver medal.
“It was all my mental game—I think I managed the pressure better, because usually toward the end [of a tournament], I get nervous, and I stop committing to shots or start thinking about score, which is always what our coach is telling us to avoid,” Lee said. “This was the one time I felt my mind was in the right place for all 36 holes.... I thought that this was a near-perfect round, a near-perfect tournament for me.”
Each of Harvard’s representatives finished no worse than a tie for 16th place.
In the best performance of her collegiate career, freshman Brenna Nelsen tied for sixth with a 151 (+7), while her classmate Lim shot 155 (+11) to finish in 14th place overall.
“Brenna’s a consistent player, and she produces a lot of solid scores in the 70s,” said captain Christine Cho of the California native, who went 77-74 over the weekend.
The highly touted rookie Lim, who had led the Crimson in scoring in all but one of its tournaments prior to this weekend, pointed to her mental game for her own below-average showing.
“I didn’t really trust myself when I was out on the course,” Lim said. “After the first day, I shot 80 and I was frustrated.... When I forgot about score and forgot about my techniques and just hit the ball, everything just came together.”
On the second day, Lim shot a 75.
Sophomore Bonnie Hu, who is also a Crimson business editor, and Cho each posted scores of 157 (+13) to round out the Harvard effort.
The tournament victory came one week after Harvard finished 10th out of 15 teams at Ole Miss’s Rebel Intercollegiate, which represented just its second taste of spring competition.
“We had been struggling a little before, and I feel like some of the team was doubting ourselves a little bit, because we hadn’t been playing out of the winter months,” Lim said. “Columbia’s tournament really helped prove to us that we’re ready for Ivies.”
Last year’s league runner-up will now have two weeks to further prepare for the Ancient Eight’s perennial showdown, held at the Seaview Bay Course in Galloway, N.J.
—Staff writer Dennis J. Zheng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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