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While the majority of Harvard students are hitting the books in preparation for finals, Harvard golf will be playing in its biggest tournament of the year at the Ivy League Championships this weekend. The stakes of the tournament are high — not only is an Ivy League crown on the table, but a trip to NCAA regionals is as well.
Both the men’s and women's teams have had strong tournament finishes leading into the Ivy championship. Last weekend, the men won the Princeton Invitational against a field of teams similar to the ones they will face this weekend in Greenwich, Conn. The team's success is due to the depth of the group, with several golfers scoring under-par, including junior Brian Ma, who went an outstanding nine-under-par.
“Everyone has been stepping up to the occasion. Especially with their last two tournaments,” said Ma about the team's overall performance. “I think all of us did our part.”
This will serve them well against the strong set of Ivy teams they are set to face in Greenwich at the Stanwich Club, which has held many other professional tournaments in the past, such as the USGA Mid-Am Championship and the Wyndham Cup.
The women field a young team featuring four freshmen. Despite the team’s inexperience, it has found tremendous success this season, finishing in at least second place in all of its tournaments except for one.
In the fall season, the team finished in seventh place in the Ivy Intercollegiate. The tournament included Ivy League teams and stronger ACC teams that dominated the field, including Florida State University, UNC, Clemson, and Notre Dame.
Since then, the group has improved and is primed to have a successful tournament this weekend. The team has shown tremendous growth this season and continues to grow to its full potential.
Sophomore Catie Schernecker broke her personal best this season in the fall at the Yale Invitational, and junior captain Meiyi Yan won first place for the first time in her Ivy career at the Intercollegiate at Prospect Bay.
Despite the Crimson's recent success, winning the tournament will be no easy feat for either team — last weekend, Ma was trailed closely by two Yale golfers who both finished 7-under-par, Gabriel Ruiz and Robert You. The Yale squad will force the Crimson golfers to have its strongest tournament if they want to pull out the win.
On the women’s side, three Ivy golfers bested the top Harvard player, Charissa Shang, at last weekend’s Harvard Invitational. A Princeton, Penn, and Dartmouth golfer all went under-par while the Crimson were all on-par or above. If the team wants to continue its hot streak, all members, including the newcomers, will have to have a strong showing.
“Generally our teams and a lot of Ivy teams are interested in winning the tournament next week — but only one can,” head coach Naree Song about the team's goals going into the tournament and the season in general.
Song was named the head coach for the Harvard women’s golf program in January after guiding the team for 18 seasons in assistant coaching positions. The Bangkok, Thailand native has been an associate coach for the Crimson since 2015 after years of playing professional golf. She even played at the U.S. Open in 2000 and retired shortly after due to injury, changing course to education and coaching.
The women are set to tee off at the Century Country Club in N.Y., while the men will travel to Conn. Both teams have had strong practice weeks at home and are eager to face off for the Ivy League crown.
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