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Opening up its season at the Doc Gimmler Invite this weekend, the Harvard men’s golf team enters the season with various new faces joining the squad.
However, the ultimate goal this season remains the same as it was during the previous campaign: to capture an Ivy League Championship.
The Crimson comes off a season in which it finished third in the Ancient Eight for the second consecutive year, placing behind Princeton and champion Penn.
Harvard last took home the Ivy League title in 1975.
“We fielded a strong team last year, and the vibe around this year’s squad is very similar,” Harvard coach Kevin Rhoads said. “We obviously wish some of our results last spring were better, but the culture around us is improving year in and year out and that’s a trend I see continuing into the foreseeable future.”
Despite the loss of senior captain Akash Mirchandani, the Crimson has made several key additions.
Harvard will be joined this fall by freshmen Aurian Capart, Paul Lei, a walk-on, and Seiya Liu.
The incoming class looks to bring a vast amount of talent and success to an experienced roster.
Capart, a native of Bousval, Belgium, was the winner of the Belgium National Matchplay Men’s Championship in 2013, as well as the Belgium Junior Masters Championship in 2012 and 2014.
Liu, meanwhile, was ranked 56th in the nation in the Class of 2015 by Golfweek.
This year’s team will be captained by senior Rohan Ramnath. Also returning to action is sophomore Gregory Royston of Durban, South Africa, who was selected as Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season.
Rounding out the squad are senior Un Cho, juniors Robert Deng, Daniel De La Garza, and Kendrick Vinar, and sophomore Hale Furey.
“We’ve been practicing quite hard this year, and I’m very excited to see how the guys perform out on the course this weekend,” Royston said. “I think with our three new incoming freshmen this year plus our returning cast of veterans we could really accomplish great things.”
The Crimson opens the fall portion of its split season participating in the Doc Gimmler invite hosted by St. John’s University. The tournament will take place this weekend at Bethpage Red course in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Last season Harvard finished tied for sixth out of the 14 teams competing, placing behind eventual champion and Ivy League rival Yale.
Vinar also finished tied for fifth place individually at the event, shooting a combined score of 205 over three rounds.
Additionally, Harvard will make its regular trips to Dartmouth and Yale this fall for the Quechee Club Invitational and the MacDonald Cup.
One new tournament that has been added to the schedule for this year is a trip out west to UCLA during the first weekend in November for the Gifford Collegiate Championship.
The team will then take a four-month hiatus before heading to Georgia over spring break to begin the second half of its campaign.
“The UCLA tournament will feature an elite field, and I’m very curious to see how well we perform in that environment,” Rhoads said. “We’re allowed to bring six players to that event when the tournament is normally teams of five, and I think depth is really one of our strong points this season.”
So far this autumn, Harvard has tried to get in as many practice hours as possible, given the extraordinary circumstances this past winter that only allowed the team two days on its home practice course prior to the conference championship.
“I think we need to keep preparing the way we did last year; that approach really sets us up well,” Rhoads said. “We had a couple of players who even made an extra push to compete over the summer more than normal and try to balance that with jobs and internships.”
With a strong core of players still in the ranks, Harvard hopes to focus its approach to the season on a week-to-week basis.
In doing so the team is planning on treating each tournament just as if it were the Ivy Championships while also being prepared mentally as well as physically.
Coach Rhoads has instilled within his team the sense that improving throughout the year will put them in a position to accomplish what they want come April.
“I think it’s easy to view the season through the lens of your result in the Ivy Championships,” Royston said. “However, that tactic is not the best way for us to approach our season. All we can do is focus on controllable factors every single week we take the course, and that is the way we are most likely to perform our best.”
–Staff writer Jed Rothstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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