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Harvard Men's Golf Shines at Cutter Creek Intercollegiate

Senior Brian Ma sizes up a punt during a match last fall in East Hampton, N.Y. The team captain shot 71, 73, and 67 last weekend, leading the team to a sixth-place finish.
Senior Brian Ma sizes up a punt during a match last fall in East Hampton, N.Y. The team captain shot 71, 73, and 67 last weekend, leading the team to a sixth-place finish. By Courtesy Harvard Athletics

The Harvard men’s golf team competed in the Cutter Creek Intercollegiate in Snow Hill, North Carolina, placing sixth in a competitive field of 15 teams. With a combined score of 866, shooting two-over-par, the Crimson demonstrated resilience and skill in its penultimate regular season tournament.

Harvard entered the tournament two weeks removed from a tough 5.5-2.5 loss to Stanford in its second event of the spring. The team’s opening tournament took the Crimson to the Savannah Intercollegiate in Florida, where the Crimson excelled, placing second overall and one under par.

Freshman Jonathan Hartono led the way in Florida, opening with a 67 (-5) in the first round, the best of his career. Hartono followed up with his second best round at Stanford, shooting a 74 (+2). Coming off of the two best rounds of his career, Hartono was hot coming into North Carolina.

In the first round, Harvard captain and first seed senior Brian Ma played a consistently solid round. He started off his first nine with three birdies and two bogeys, leaving him one under par. He played a consistent back nine with all pars to end the first round with a 71 (-1), earning him a T-6 individual. Harvard’s second seed, junior Jeff Fang, did not fare as well in the opener, finishing with a 77 (+5). Hartono also finished with a 77. Crimson junior Diego Saavedra-Davila started off the first round hot, with a net score of -1 through the first 16. However, Saavedra-Davila shot a double bogey on 17 and a bogey on 18, bringing him to a 74 (+2) for the first round. Seniors Kevin Sze and Adam Xiao both had three birdies and four bogeys to net the two a 73 in the first round, giving them T-22 individually and rounding out the Crimson’s first day.

Despite the early inconsistency across the Crimson's roster, the first round was strong overall, leaving Harvard with a net score of 291 and putting it third place behind Campbell (288) and East Carolina (284).

In the second round, the Crimson played better, but unfortunately the competition began to pull away. The team finished its second round with a team score of 288, bringing its total to 579. This score brought the Crimson to 6th place, +19 from East Carolina, who remained in first place with a total score of 560.

Fang, who had a rough first day relative to his seeding, bounced back on the second day of the tournament. With four birdies and two bogeys, Fang finished with a 70 (-2), improving by seven strokes between rounds. Hartono followed suit. He started off the second round on fire, eagling the second hole to finish the front nine at -2. He had three birdies on the back nine but unfortunately also had two bogeys and a double bogey after the turn to give him +1 on the back. Finishing with a 71 (-1) gave Hartono the second best round of his career and highlighted his potential for growth The freshman has had a consistent first season and has shown promise for his next three years with the Crimson. Ma had 2 bogeys and a birdie on the front nine (+1), but played lights out on the back nine and finished with a 73 (+1). The second round brought him down to T14, but Ma’s back nine showed that he was ready to lock in for the third round. Sze, Saavedra-Davilla and Xiao rounded out the team score with 74 (+2), 77 (+3), and 78 (+4) respectively.

In the third and final round, Ma shot three birdies in a row on the front nine and two more on the back, leaving him at a 67 (-5). Sze showed consistency, finishing with a 73 (+1). Hartano shot for three bogeys and three birdies, ending with a 72 (E). He was hot with the driver, posting a combined score of -10 on all of the par five holes. Fang had a strong round, but a few hiccups on difficult holes put him at 75 (+3). Saavedra-Davila shot for three birdies, but a tough back nine left him at 76 (+4). Finishing off the third round, Adam Xiao kept his same consistency, but a disaster on the ninth left him with a final score of 80 (+8). Harvard finished with a combined team score of 866 and led the 15-team tournament in pars.

“Leading up to this tournament, the team spent a lot of time working on putting and chip/pitch shots around the green,” Ma said. “Even though the weather in Cambridge wasn’t favorable, any day when the temperature was above 50 degrees, you could find the team outdoors at the golf course practicing. Those few days that we practiced outdoors were crucial in helping us prepare and get our confidence up for the tournament.”

With the regular season drawing to a close, the Crimson is set to make its final appearance before the Ivy League Championship at the Princeton Invitational in New Jersey this weekend.

“Princeton is great in that all the Ivy League teams will play in it, so it ends up being a good gauge as to where we stand against the rest of the conference,” Ma said. “Thankfully we have a week in between Princeton and Ivy’s to rest and sharpen our game, so the team needs to keep doing what they have been doing since the beginning of the semester and working on getting in as many practice reps as possible.” The 54-hole tournament will be a crucial test for the team as it gears up for the Ivy League Championship Tournament from April 21 to 23.

The Crimson will tee off next at Springdale Golf Club in Princeton on Saturday.

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