At the end of the final round of the Ivy League Championships, Harvard women’s golf remained tied with Princeton for the top spot to decide the conference crown. In dramatic fashion, the Crimson came up just short in a playoff hole against the Tigers to decide the Ancient Eight title.
In addition to the climactic second-place finish for the Harvard team, Crimson junior Michelle Xie finished atop the individual golfer standings to become the Ivy League Individual Champion. Following a first day at five over par, Xie finished days two and three at one under and even par, respectively. Xie recorded no birdies in her first day, but she quickly reversed course to record six birdies in the next two days and finish on top.
Following a tournament-best score of 294 in the final round on Sunday, Harvard and Princeton continued to play onto hole 19 for the day. Ultimately, the Tigers would prevail for its second straight conference championship with a score of two under par between its four golfers on the hole, while the Crimson golfers combined for a score of four over par.
“Everyone definitely brought their best,” junior Anna Zhou said. “And there’s nothing more we can ask for.”
Harvard and Princeton were neck and neck throughout the entire tournament. The Crimson finished the first round one stroke ahead of the Tigers sitting in second place. Princeton regained the lead from Harvard by finishing one stroke ahead of its rival on day two, setting up a showdown on the final day between the reigning champion Tigers and the Crimson, the recently dethroned champions coming off of a broken-up five-peat.
“It was a very interesting week,” senior captain Lita Guo said. “The chances of having a playoff and ending with a tie are rare.”
Along with Xie, the team as a whole saw improvement as the weekend progressed as well, as Harvard improved from 313 strokes on the first day to 304 on Saturday and eventually 294 in the final round.
“Everyone played their best, we kept improving on our scores each day,” Zhou said. “The last day we made a really good run.”
The entire team stepped up to the occasion with the tournament on the line heading into the final day. Senior captain Lita Guo rebounded from her scores of 81 and 80 in the first two rounds and put together an impressive 74 in round three. Zhou mirrored Guo’s 74 following her own scores of 83 and 80 in the first two rounds.
Freshman Belinda Hu also improved with a quality final round to finish fifth overall in her first Ivy League Championships. Hu recorded scores of 76 on the first two days, and then shined with a 74 in the third round.
The overall environment of the Ivy League Tournament, a new experience to the Crimson freshmen golfers, added to the energetic dynamic of the weekend.
“I think Ivies is really special because I specifically felt the team spirit more than any other tournament,” freshman Jessica Luo said. “It was all of us working together towards one common goal, and it brought us closer together. The team spirit in Ivies is incredible.”
Although the season ended in a playoff hole defeat, Harvard netted positives in the tumultuous spring season.
“We definitely had a solid season,” Zhou said. “Everyone worked really hard given the situation with weather conditions and everything else.”
And despite the late winter and fierce Boston conditions, the Crimson put together a season that included a victory at its home Harvard Invitational played in Florida.
For Harvard’s lone senior, Guo, the tournament would be the last competition as a Crimson.
“It was really special to be able to spend this last Ivies with my team and finishing my college career at Ivies,” Guo said. “It’s a great atmosphere, bringing out team spirit.”
Following the loss of the trophy to the repeating champion Princeton squad, Harvard and its new additions will look to rebound next season to return the trophy to Cambridge, where it resided from 2012 to 2016.
“We have four freshmen joining us next year and they are all amazing players,” Zhou said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
—Staff writer Joseph W. Minatel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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