Making a return to tournament fairways for the first time since NCAA Regionals in May, Harvard men’s golf opened the season competing at the Doc Gimmler.
In recent years, the Crimson has tended to start the year at the two-day invitational hosted by St. John’s at Bethpage Red Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. Further following tradition, Harvard returned as Ivy League champion for the second-straight season.
After 54 holes of play, the Crimson found itself in the fifth-place position in a field of 14 squads, one spot better than last year’s placement. Yale, the only other Ancient Eight competitor at the invite, bested Harvard by two shots to secure fourth.
Florida State brought home the first-place trophy. The Seminoles concluded play with a combined score of 827, 10 shots in front of runner-up Loyola. Third place went to UConn. Rounding out the top ten were Villanova, Rhode Island, Navy, Hartford, as well as the hosts from St. John’s.
“Generally, I’m very pleased about where we are, especially considering we are a much younger team this year,” Harvard coach Kevin Rhoads said. “Everyone was very strong mentally and in terms of their approach, which is most important at this time of year as we all try to sharpen our games following differing amounts of play over the summer.”
The tournament featured three rounds spread over two days, with the first two rounds taking place on Saturday and round three commencing early Sunday.
The 7,092-yard Red Course played at a par 70 for the weekend. The course features two holes that play at par five, with four par-three holes.
The Crimson modeled consistency on Saturday, firing identical scores of 283 over each round. On Sunday, the team put together a total of 285, locking in one stroke ahead of Johnson & Wales University. This finale improved upon last year’s total of 852 by one shot.
Harvard placed third on both par-three and par-four holes. However, the team struggled on par-five holes, placing in a tie for last with Navy in that category.
Also competing over the weekend were squads from Hofstra, Towson, and Iona College.
Individually, captain Greg Royston set the pace for the Crimson. The Durban, South Africa, native finished in a sixth-place tie overall at -2. Royston performed particularly well on par fours, finishing with the second-lowest shot total on such holes at four-under-par. Junior Aurian Capart rocketed 12 spots up the leaderboard during the final round to earn a share of 17th. The individual champion was Yale’s Eion Leonard, who hit 11 strokes below the watermark.
“Given the success we have been able to achieve over the past few seasons, we certainly believe in the ability of this team moving forward,” Royston said. “The veterans on the team, including myself and Aurian, hope to do our best to use everything we learned from those who came before us to help the newcomers grow and improve their performances.”
Royston’s first-round tally of 66 matched a career low at the collegiate level. He first reached that mark one season prior at the same tournament. In that opening round, Royston finished behind only two competitors—Leonard of the Bulldogs and Connor Daly of Villanova.
Harvard sophomores Rij Patel and Ryan Rhee finished tied for 22nd and 31st, respectively. Rounding out the scoring squad and making his tournament debut was freshman Grant Fairbairn. Competing as an individual for the Crimson was freshman walk-on Peter George. Harvard came away with 33 birdies overall on the weekend, ten of which were tallied by Royston.
“Obviously we had a huge amount of leadership and talent graduate last year, so that leaves plenty of space to be filled by the underclassmen,” Rhoads said. “For them to get going right away at the first tournament gives them a lot of room to grow early on, particularly considering how difficult it has been to qualify for our traveling team in recent years.”
—Staff writer Jed Rothstein can be reached at email@example.com.
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