By Connor Wentzell '12
The Harvard Men's Golf team opened up its 2011 spring season with the Yale Spring Opener at the Yale Golf Course in New Haven, Connecticut. The 1924 design by C.B. MacDonald always proves a formidable opponent for the Crimson in their first tournament since the fall season. The Yale Spring Opener has become a 36-hole, one-day event. It is traditionally played in difficult conditions: in the past few years, the Crimson have faced severe rain, wind and cold in this tournament. The week leading up to the tournament suggested that this year would be no different; snow was even expected to fall in New Haven on the day of the event. However, the team missed the bad weather by one day, and instead was met with clear skies and moderate temperatures for the first week of April.
The Crimson fared well in their first 18 holes of the day, considering they were playing without the leadership of their Captain Tony Grillo '12 and the consistency of Seiji Liu '14, who were both unable to play this weekend. As a result, the team featured two new comers to the roster: Max Campion '13 and Kevin McCarthy '14, who provided substantial help for the Crimson.
After the first round, Harvard was in 3rd place with a score of 303. Harvard was led by the stellar play of junior Mark Pollak with a solid 71 that left him tied for first place individually after one round. Kevin McCarthy '14 added a 76 and Connor Wentzell '12 and Max Campion '13 followed with 78 to put the Crimson within striking distance for the second round. Freshman Theo Lederhausen, playing in the '1 spot', was unable to find his game during the first round, finishing with an uncharacteristic 80. Michael Lai played as an individual and also shot 80.
As the wind picked up for the afternoon 18, the Crimson saw their position near the top of the leaderboard falter slightly. The team was led by Max Campion, who fired a solid 74. Theo Lederhausen was able to battle back from his first round struggles to fire a 75 in the afternoon. Mark Pollak continued his consistent play to also shoot a 75 in the 2nd round, despite somewhat stumbling towards the finish. Connor Wentzell added a gruesome 82 to round out the team total, while Kevin McCarthy struggled on the greens to end with an 83. Michael Lai, despite a solid front nine, wasn't able to find his game on the back and finished with a 92.
The Crimson ended with a total of 609, good enough for 4th place; notably ahead of Dartmouth and Yale – the only other Ivy teams in the field. Mark Pollak was able to hold onto his first round lead to finish in a tie for first place. The tournament marks the first collegiate win for Pollak, placing him in the same category as fellow H Golf legends Michael Shore '09 and Big John Christensen '09, who won the individual title at the Yale Spring Opener in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to "Radar" Ray Peck and his family. Ray, who became ill during the event, is a longtime volunteer and starter at the Yale Golf Course. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.