Harvard Men's Golf Competes at ASU Thunderbird Invitational to Open Spring

Rohan Ramnath was +9 on the weekend (Harvard Athletic Communications).

By Kevin Rhoads, head coach, and Daniel Joseph, assistant coach

After a productive and memorable experience during their Spring Trip in Scottsdale two weeks ago, the Crimson returned to Tempe for Arizona State University’s Thunderbird Classic April 5-7.  Going back to Arizona gave the Harvard Men a great opportunity to play in great conditions, against top competition, and on a difficult golf course.   After only being to play one full round outdoors between Spring Break and this trip, scoring low was going to be a good challenge.  Low numbers or not, it was certainly going to be a great opportunity to move their games forward and test themselves.  The Pete Dye-designed ASU Karsten Golf Course is visually intimidating and purposely narrow in landing areas, requiring precise shot-making and proper course management and commitment.  Accompanying the visual difficulty of course, the greens were firm, fast, and sloped with dropoffs and water surrounding many greens.  There were even some severe pin positions thrown in.  Needless to say, it was a true test of golf for the entire field and challenged the Crimson each day.

The team came out of the gate impressively on Day 1, making 10 birdies as a team. The team was able to manage the golf course well and hit shots to the proper areas of the greens, which helped them to make some putts. Captain Theo Lederhausen  (’14, Hinsdale, IL) played a wonderful round at even par and even had it to 3 under par at one point during the round. Freshman Rohan Ramnath (Weston, FL) returned to competition after some back troubles in the fall with a solid 1 over par round of 72. The Crimson were rounded out by rounds of 75, 76, and 78 by Akash Mirchandani (’15, Prospect, KY), Michael Lai (’14, Redlands, CA), and Kevin McCarthy (’14, Lynn, MA) respectively, to shoot 294. The team found themselves tied for 12th place out of 18 teams - right around some highly ranked teams including the host, #47 Arizona Sate University.
The weekend proved to be challenging for the Crimson, though there were some bright spots.  Day 2 was highlighted by a 6 shot improvement from Day 1 by McCarthy who managed his game nicely with a 1 over par round of 72. Ramnath continued his strong play with a birdie and 14 straight pars after a tough opening hole to finish at 73 on the day. Lederhausen (76), Mirchandani (77), and Lai (84) made positive strides going into Day 3 of the event. The Crimson lost a little ground with a 298 score on Day 2 to fall to 15th place; however, they were only 3 shots behind hosts Arizona State.
On Day 3 Harvard was looking for a good round to improve their position, but the combination of the toughness of the golf course and still being slightly rusty made it difficult to move up the leaderboard.  The good parts of their game still were on display, as Harvard finished Saturday and Sunday’s rounds with a combined 16 birdies and an eagle between them.  However, balancing off the good scores were too many bogeys or higher scores.  Nobody escaped without making a score of double-bogey or higher in the final round, and some had more than one.  Tougher pin positions and the desire to go lower required greater execution and commitment, and the Crimson were not able to find the next gear.  Lederhausen and McCarthy both shot 75 with rela tively clean cards, but each had one or two high numbers.  Ramnath made four birdies but shot 77 due to scores on three holes.  Lai shot 79 and Mirchandani had 80, with neither avoiding a high number.  The team would finish Day 3 remaining in 15th place out of 18, but knowing there was huge opportunity in each of their rounds. 
The Crimson’s goal moving forward is to build on the considerable positives from Arizona, and slowly keep sharpening the other areas of their games.  As they continue to get the winter rust off, the high scores will melt away.  The Crimson returned to Cambridge on a redeye Monday morning, and will now turn their attention back towards school and preparing for this weekend’s Princeton Invitational at Springdale Golf Club in New Jersey.  Though they’ll miss the weather, it will be good to return to more familiar environs.