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Harvard Men’s Golf Places Sixth at Ivy League Championships

Un Cho led Harvard with a score of 224 over the three days at the Ivy League Championships (Harvard Athletic Communications).

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Harvard men's golf team shot a collected score of 909 over the three-day tournament, as the Crimson finished sixth at the Ivy League Championships.

Freshman Un Cho paced the Crimson by tying for 12th on the leaderboard. Cho completed the weekend by shooting 224 (73-72-79). Classmate Rohan Ramnath was five strokes behind, scoring 81-75-73 (229), as he finished tied for 21st.

Captain Theodore Lederhausen  shot 76-77-78 (231), as he placed 26th, and fellow junior Michael Lai finished one shot back 74-78-80 (232). Akash Mirchandani, a sophomore, rounded out competition for the Crimson with a score of 80-81-74 (235).

Princeton won the competition by shooting 883, followed by Yale (888), Penn (889), Columbia (893), Dartmouth (896), Harvard, Cornell (920) and Brown (920).

 

Written by the members of the Men's team and Coach Rhoads

The Harvard Men's Golf Team arrived at renowned Caves Valley Golf Club late in the evening of Wednesday, April 24th building up to their final, and most important tournament stop of the year. Situated amidst the "rolling hills and lush valleys" just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, the Tom Fazio-designed course was set up to be the most memorable the boys would play all year. Tightly mown fairways and perfect white sand bunkers juxtaposed swirling winds and very fast greens, ensuring that the par 70 layout would provide a true and pure test. Despite the challenges that lay ahead on the golf course, the guys felt prepared mentally and physically.  The team stayed in a private home for the week, and are so appreciative of the hospitality that they received. The team can't thank the Macks family enough for serving as gracious ho sts unmatched in their thoughtfulness and generosity.

Any successful competition starts with preparation. Going into the Thursday practice round each player was doing last-minute sharpening of their games, and had good mindsets.  The Crimson methodically mapped out strategies for playing the course, took note of subtleties such as grain on greens and wind on par 3s, and visualized positioning for tough weekend pins. Walking off the 18th hole of their practice round confident in their commitment and sure of their strategy, the team traded caps and polos for coat and tie for the annual Ivy League banquet that evening at the club. In a heartfelt welcome, Chairman of the Club Mr. Fader reminded all of the resonance between the "amateur ideal" that Caves Valley was founded upon and the spirit of competition, camaraderie, and respect that defines the Ivy League. He set the stage for a keynote sp eech from Fred Ridley: decorated amateur golfer, lawyer by trade, and chairman of the Augusta National competition committee (which was especially salient given the Tiger Woods drop penalty only two weekends ago). Mr. Ridley spoke passionately about his journey in the game of golf, the relationships he has formed, and the winding paths he took—paths that many in the audience would take not too far from there. After pairings were pulled from the ceremonial hat, the boys turned in for the night. The curtain was drawn for an exciting Ivy League Championship.

As the boys walked to the first tee of the biggest tournament all year, all were affected by nerves, and all felt a wave of emotions and pressure that is innate to a competition of this significance. The challenge is always to acknowledge those feelings, but to then utilize the mental and physical techniques that the team has worked on all year to help keep the body performing correctly.  Coach Rhoads sees golf as a 'calibration sport', where our minds and bodies execute the necessary skills best when in a certain range.  Being too low (not caring, not being fully engaged, being sloppy with fundamentals or thought processes), for example, or being too high (caring too much, trying too hard, forcing things to happen instead of allowing them to happen), each won't allow for peak performance.  The search for this balance is one component of tournament golf – and a critical one when the stakes are perceived as higher, as they are in an Ivy Championship.

The first round was a mix of really good holes and some high holes – a common pattern in other tournaments from the spring.  Harvard was led by Un Cho ('16, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada) with a 73 and Michael Lai ('14, Redlands, CA) with a 74.  Captain Theo Lederhausen ('14, Hinsdale, IL) added a 76, Akash Mirchandani ('15, Prospect, KS) and Rohan Ramnath ('16, Weston, FL) fought through some tough stretches to post 80 and 81, respectively. Though the team was positioned in 6th place on the leaderboard, 11 shots behind first place Pennsylvania, they were only 5 s hots out of second place, held by eventual champion Princeton.  This was even despite five double-bogey scores or higher as a team, most of which could have been strategized differently.  That evening the team enjoyed a sit-down meal with the many family members who came out to support before resting up for a moving day charge.

The Crimson arrived at Caves Valley on Saturday well rested and wanting to make a charge. The weather was mild, but there was wind that changed direction and intensity.  The wind proved to be tricky and pivotal on the par 3's with big elevation changes. Cho paced the team with two birdies in his first four holes and ended up with a 2-over par 72. He finished day 2 in sole possession of 4th place individually, which was particularly inspiring given that after the round the team found out that he was battling a fever and not feeling well.  Cho and Coach Rhoads spent a couple of hours in the evening finding a doctor, who diagnosed that the fever was caused by an infection, and prescribed antibiotics. The rest of the team followed with 75, 77, and 78, by Ramnath, Lederhausen, and Lai r espectively.  Mirchandani rounded out the group with an uncharacteristic 81. Penn faltered a bit the second day, and five teams sat within four strokes of the lead. The Crimson shot 302, and were still only 13 strokes out of first place. 

The team woke up early on Sunday morning.  They were eager to get started and take advantage of the opportunities on the golf course. Ramnath led the team with a 73 despite being assessed a two stroke penalty on his 18th hole – so his round was a very good one.  His tee shot finished in a hazard but was playable, but Ramnath was going to have to stand with one foot in the water to hit his shot.  He tested the depth of the water before he stepped into it to make sure that he wasn't going to go in too deeply, and although he gained no advantage, it was technically considered 'testing conditions in a hazard.'  Mirchandani returned to his usual form with a strong 74. Lederhausen , Cho, and Lai shot 78, 79, and 80, respectively. Although the men executed many memorable shots, they weren't able to advance their position and finished in 6th place.  The Princeton Tigers played phenomenal golf when they needed it most on Sunday, and were able to take the lead from Yale and finish the tournament as Ivy League Champions.

This year's championship was definitely a great learning experience.  Everyone saw improvements in all parts of their games from the start of the season, but also saw that certain tendencies are hard to overwrite.  Though it may not seem like it, they are not far from achieving their goal of winning an Ivy Championship.  However, to do so will require coming to the correct conclusions about which controllable factors they're doing correctly and what they need to change.  They will be working on those items between now and the fall, though most will have to work on it in between jobs and internships over the summer. Good golf comes from time spent working on the right things.& nbsp; They are now working on more of the right things – they just need to be very disciplined to do things the right way 100% of the time – no matter what the conditions or situation. 

Coaches Rhoads, Joseph, and Schernecker would like to thank all of the parents for coming and supporting the teams last week and all year, all of the Friends for their ongoing support, and every other person and facility that has helped the program this year.  Most of all, the coaches want to thank the team members for all the smart and hard work, their camaraderie and team spirit, and their determination to get better.  It will pay off…it's just a matter of time.