At the Yale Invitational, Harvard women’s golf culminated its weekend in sixth place of 17 teams at the challenging Course at Yale. The team finished53 strokes over par and 15 strokes off the pace set by the winner, Boston University. The Crimson finished strong on Sunday, needing a combined 298 strokes to close out the day. It was the only time this weekend that the Harvard women, who finished the 54-hole tournament with a total score of 905 points, required fewer than 300 strokes.
The sixth-place finish came after the Crimson notched second and fourth place showings in its first two tournaments. Especially important to 14th-year Harvard coach Kevin Rhoades is the fact that the Crimson placed second out of four Ivy League schools at the Invitational —the team was six strokes behind Penn but 13 and 14 strokes ahead of Yale and Brown, respectively.
“The team played well this weekend,” said captain Michelle Xie, a first-team All-Ivy League and 2018 Spring Academic All-Ivy Leaguer. “We’re progressing in the right direction and I think we’re setting ourselves up great for the rest of the season.”
Freshman Anina Ku continued her consistent golfing, leading Harvard with a +4 finish on the weekend after she ended the Crimson’s first two tournaments three and five strokes over par. She placed sixth out of 95 golfers who took part in the tournament, making this her third top-12 finish in three tournaments.
Sophomore Belinda Hu, an Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year last year, also drove the ball well all three days in New Haven, joining Ku among the top-20 golfers at Yale. She carded 76s on both Friday and Saturday and a 75 on Sunday. That made her one of just 12 golfers at Yale to finish no worse than +5 on any of the three days of the tournament.
It was an exceedingly difficult course all-around, as evidenced by the fact that the Terriers finished 38 shots above par on the weekend and still beat the rest of the field by five strokes. Just two individual golfers, Hanako Kawasaki of Boston University and Kaitleen Shee of St. John’s, finished the tournament under par.
“There’s a lot of elevation changes, and we had some interesting wind as well,” Xie said. “They had some tricky greens to read, and they played the course a little longer this year than they have traditionally so it was a little different even for returning players.”
Round one proved to be a challenge for freshman Chloe Royston and sophomore Jessica Luo, who ended the day at 15 and 14 strokes above par, respectively. But both Royston and Luo improved markedly as the tournament went on, and the pair ended the weekend tied at 28 strokes over par, good for a tie for 56th overall.
“The greens are a bit difficult, but as the week went along we learnt about them more and were able to play better, I think,” Royston said. The South Africa native added that she felt very lucky to play on such a “stunning course.”
For the first time this season, Harvard golfed without standout freshman Elizabeth Wang. The San Marino, Calif., native surged up the World Amateur Golf Ranking last week, moving from No. 84 to No. 59 among women’s amateur golfers. After she finished as the third and fifth best golfers in the entire field in tournaments at Dartmouth and Princeton, she missed out on the Yale Invitational and will be eager to secure a spot on the team for the Crimson’s next tournament.
The Yale Invitational was the third of Harvard’s four fall tournaments, following trips in September to Dartmouth and Princeton and preceding a tournament in Stanford in two weeks. The Crimson will look to build off of its strong foundation in Stanford and then in the spring season, when it will seek to reassert itself as the best women’s golf program in the Ivy League following consecutive Ancient Eight championships for Princeton.
“This was a very productive tournament, and I think we’re a great team this year,” said Royston when asked what she thought of Harvard’s chances in the Ivy League next spring. “It’s difficult to say at this stage but I think we’re doing quite well.”
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