Harvard Men's Golf Takes Sixth at Princeton Invitational

Michael Lai and the Crimson will compete at the Ivy League Championships April 26-28 (Harvard Athletic Communications).

By Daniel Joseph, assistant coach

The Crimson Men returned from the Arizona State University's Thunderbird Invitational motivated and focused. They were back in familiar conditions and were able to get outside for three solid days of practice prior to leaving for Princeton.

The Crimson made the 5-hour drive to the annual Princeton Invitational where they were greeted by cold and rainy conditions.  There was heavy rain in the morning and afternoon on Friday and no team was able to play a full practice round.  The team was able to be productive by walking the course. Coach Rhoads and the experienced players were able share their knowledge of Springdale Golf Club with Rohan Ramnath (Weston, FL '16) and Un Cho (Ancaster, Ont '16) as this was their first time to Springdale.  Springdale is a relatively short golf course for modern standards and defends itself with small, fast, sloping greens. The focus for the team was proper positioning off the tee to allow for good angles on approach shots aiming for centers of greens.
When the team arrived to the golf course on Saturday for the 36-hole first day, the golf course was drying but still wet enough that the tournament employed a "mark, lift, clean and re-mark" policy.  The greens were soft and it was common to see approach shots spinning back off the putting surfaces. The Crimson did an excellent job through the morning round.  They were positioning themselves in good places off the tee and more importantly on their approach shots to the green.  As a result, the Crimson scored well relative to the field. Juniors Michael Lai (Redlands, CA '14) and Theo Lederhausen (Hinsdale, IL '14) combined for 6 birdies and an eagle in round one as they shot one under (70) and even par (71) respectively. The team rounded out with rounds of 75, 76, and 77 by Ramnath, Cho and Akash Mirchandani (Prospect, KY '15). The team found themselves in 5th place after the first round trailing Penn by 8 shots.
The second round started immediately after the first 18 with the possibility of darkness looming. This was the first 36-hole day for the team since the fall and some fatigue set in. The Crimson continued to hit great shots all afternoon.  However, great shots were accompanied by a few loose shots and poor positioning that lead to some bogeys and higher.  The team persevered through the tough holes and managed their games reasonably well.  Ramnath was low for the team in the second round with 4 birdies for (+2) 73 and Lai continued his strong play adding in 2 more birdies and a (+3) 74. Lederhausen (76), Mirchandani (76), and Cho (77) helped the team to a score of 299 and 6th place after 36 holes.
The Crimson showed the most poise and focus of the season during the final round of the Princeton Invitational.  Springdale showed its teeth on "Masters Sunday" with difficult hole locations and wind gusts of 20-25 mph. The team hit outstanding shots and managed the course and conditions better than any time this season. They positioned tee shots properly, hit great approach shots to the correct areas of the greens and holed a few putts. Overall, the men gave themselves chances all day and hit good putts (that don't always go in). Lederhausen led the squad with a (-1) 70 followed closely by Mirchandani's return to form with an even par (71) round. Ramnath (76), Lai (77), and Cho (77) helped the Crimson to the 3rd best team score of the third round and 6th place out of a field of 14 teams.
The team returned to Cambridge late Sunday night, with a food and Masters viewing stop along the way.  Adam Scott's performance was inspiring and showed his perseverance since his collapse in last year's British Open. There is a lot to be learned from that type of resolve and the men will couple that inspiration with 10 days of hard work and preparation before the 2013 Ivy League Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, MD April 25-28.