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Men's Golf Wins Princeton Invitational

Akash Mirchandani placed first overall at the invite last weekend (Harvard Athletic Communications).

By Robert Deng '17

This was an exciting week for the Harvard men's golf team. The excitement leading up to the Princeton Invitational combined with Masters week means spring is finally here. Feeling strong after a productive week of practice and competitive qualifying, Harvard Golf woke up bright and early on April 11th to head down to Springdale Country Club for Princeton University's annual invitational. All spirits were high as the team looked forward to a weekend of great golf and beautiful weather, and the team members were able to rest and study during the five-hour commute to Princeton.  Upon arriving the men played their practice round - ironing down commonly used shots and solidifying strategy with coaches Kevin Rhoads and Daniel Joseph providing feedback. 

The team woke up on Saturday morning at the hopeful hour of six a.m. for the 36-hole day. Once warmed up, each team member teed off on the first hole, under the supportive, watchful eye of Coach Daniel Joseph. Springdale proved score-able in the first round of the Princeton Invitational, as Akash Mirchandani '15 came in first with a brilliant round of 67, with Robert Deng '17 coming in soon thereafter with another 67. Third to come in was Daniel de la Garza '17 with a well-played 68, and Captain Theodore Lederhausen '14 finished off the team with a 2-under-par 69. Un Cho '16 had a fine round of 72 and it was a great luxury to not count a 1-over-par score.

The top four players' scores added up to be a remarkable 13 under par.  Harvard's 271 put the Crimson in the lead and set a Harvard men's golf team round record by 5 shots besting the mark set in the fall at Bethpage.  Mirchandani and Deng both tied the team low round record of 67.

The course would prove to be a bit more challenging for the field in the afternoon, yielding fewer low scores. Despite the tougher, windier conditions, Mirchandani was able to improve from the morning round by one.  His 5-under-par 66 put him in first place individually while establishing Harvard's new mark for low 18 holes and 36 holes.  Deng followed with a respectable 69. Lederhausen and de la Garza came in with solid even par 71s. Cho would finish with a 75.

After the well-executed scoring day, the Crimson sat atop the leaderboard with a score of 548.  The 20-under-par score shattered the team's previous best tournament score for 36 holes and left Harvard 14 shots in front of their nearest competitor, Yale.  (Yale had won the last four Princeton Invitationals.)

On Sunday morning, the Crimson woke up ready to compete in the final leg of the tournament. Springdale would be ready for the field with edgier pins, faster greens, and higher winds. Not everyone in the field would finish their round unscathed by Springdale's hazards. After adequately warming up on the range, the team teed off excited to take on Springdale in all of its challenges. Despite the clear difference in difficulty that Springdale wielded on Sunday, Harvard's players were well prepared for the challenge. This was due in great part to well-thought out strategy and a dedication to process which allowed the team members to ignore external distractions.
 
Deng came in first with a 1-under-par round of 70.  Lederhausen and de la Garza both posted well-fought even par 71s.  Mirchandani posted a 1-over-par 72 and Cho, followed with a two over round of 73.  Harvard's even par round of 284 was the second lowest score of the day and kept them just 3 shots clear of a hard-charging Yale.
 
Mirchandani won the individual title with Deng one shot behind in second place. De la Garza and Lederhausen followed with sixth and 10th place finishes, respectively, and finally, Cho, finished in 30th place. The Crimson finished 20 under par for the tournament, setting a new record to par by 16 shots. This spring the team has had to work hard to tell the difference between working on proper and controllable variables, balanced against day-to-day scoring which has been challenging given the weather and course conditions seen in the northeast over the last couple of months.  The result at Princeton was strong confirmation that the hard, smart work shown by the team has been productive.  The team members are not satisfied with one result, however, and will continue to work to push themselves and each other to do the things that make them score well. 
 
Harvard Men's Golf would like to thank all family and friends, supporters, coaches, and followers of Harvard Golf for your continual support. Without you, our program could not flourish and succeed the way it is. Thank you for your support, and we look forward to the rest of the spring season!