All good things must come to an end, and for the women’s golf team it was the five-year reign over the Ivy League that finally concluded on Sunday.
The group, traveling Orlando, Fla., for the Ivy League Championship hosted at the Orange Tree Golf Club, finished the weekend in second behind Princeton. The Tigers outplayed Harvard by 31 strokes and dominated the individual field. Princeton lead in every single round of golf and had only one golfer finish outside of the top seven. All three top individual spots went to Tiger golfers with another finishing in seventh and their fifth player in 31st.
The Crimson, rounding out the tournament with a total of 58 over par, had all but one player in the top 12 spots. In fact, three Harvard golfers tied for 12th.
“The team definitely did our best with the things under our control and following our process as usual,” sophomore Anna Zhou said. “Especially with what has been a challenging spring season with most courses being closed due to a late winter, everyone worked hard and played their best. The course was a lot of fun to play, albeit challenging and narrow.”
While the loss comes at the end of a five-year win streak, the result was previewed at the April 1 Harvard Invitational. The Crimson women’s team came in third out of the eight teams, falling behind both Princeton and Boston University. The Tigers also won gold on that weekend. In that invitational as well as this weekend’s conference championship, Harvard outshot Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown.
For the team rankings, things stayed pretty consistent throughout. While the Crimson and Princeton maintained their respective second and first rankings though all three rounds, with Yale remaining in last the entire competition as well, only the middle four teams experienced any variation. After the final putt, Columbia and Pennsylvania would rank third and fourth, respectively, and Brown and Dartmouth would tie for fifth.
Through the second round, the matchup was pretty close between the top two finishers, though the Tigers would pull ahead in the third. At the end of one, Harvard trailed Princeton by only six. That deficit would increase to 15 after the second round of play, and more than double in the third.
From an individual perspective, the Crimson struggled most in the second round of play. Sophomore Michelle Xie led the team group initially and was battling for the the first round spot with the Tiger’s Amber Wang. At the end of one, Xie had shot a 72 to Wang’s 70 and was in prime position to grab the lead. However, a second round score of 85 would drop her 11 spots in the individual ranks and subsequently bar her from a top position for the remainder of the tournament.
“The course this weekend was tough, and our team performed just as we normally do,” Xie said. “We came in second this year, after Princeton's incredible performance. As for my own experience, I had many bad breaks and swing problems throughout the second round, but played well the first and last rounds.”
Other than Xie, captain Anne Cheng gave the top spots a run. In the first round, the senior shot a 76 and was ranked at ninth. Cheng then shot a team best, along with classmate Nina Fairbairn, 75 in round two. The play jumped her up three spots to sixth, within contention of the top spot. A third round score of 81, however, dropped the captain six spots to 12th, where she would tie with two other Harvard golfers.
“I'm happy with how the team played,” Fairbairn said. “It was a tough course and we've been suffering from illnesses and injuries. For my rounds, it was making sure the tempo on my swing was good. The first day, because of how tight the course was, I had many penalty strokes, even though I played well. The next two days, I just continued to play well and stick to what I knew.”
Zhou also neared the top mark before failing to make a run in the final round. Starting off the competition with a round of 77, the sophomore was tied for 11th as she took to the course for the second time that day. Like Cheng, Zhou found herself up three spots, in eighth, after shooting a 76 on the par 72 course. In the last opportunity to jump into individual medal contention, Zhou shot a 78 and dropped a spot. In spite of this, the sophomore still picked up the top finish for the Crimson, tied for ninth with a total score 231.
Xie, Cheng, and Fairbairn all tied for 12th with scores of 232. Freshman Ji Hae Lee shot a 243 to finish in 24th overall.
“Ivies is always such a fun tournament to play in, and we can't thank the Orange Tree golf club staff for letting us all play there,” Xie said. “It's the first time the tournament has been outside the Northeast, so having warm weather was a great change. Our season is now officially over and we will miss our seniors Anne and Nina.”
—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.