Bonnie Hu and the Crimson will compete at the Roar-EE Invitational April 13-14 (Harvard Athletic Communications).
By Kevin Rhoads, Harvard Women's Golf Coach
The travel was well worth it – full of Southern Hospitality, new sights, a good golf course and good competition. Ole Miss was a great host that provided a welcoming spirit and great organization.
The Golf Course at Ole Miss is a beauty. The greens are fast and sloping. There are big and attractive aesthetics. Adding to the challenge were plenty of undulations requiring blind approaches and carefully calculated trajectories. The tournament was played at 6313 yards – the longest course that Harvard has played in recent memory.
In addition to the challenges of the course, the field was the strongest faced by the Crimson in a couple of years. Heading into the tournament 10 of the Division I teams participating were ranked higher than Harvard and the two teams that are not Division I are highly regarded nationally. The top three ranked teams in the event were #18 Baylor, #37 Tulsa, and #39 Mississippi.
In Friday's first round, Harvard fared well relative to the competition. The golf course played tough with the team low round being 292. That is not far off from the average score of many of the teams in the event. Harvard's 304 put them in 6th place – a relatively successful round.
The Crimson were paced by Bonnie Hu ('14, Fremont, CA), who shot two-over par 74 to lead the Crimson. Her long, straight driving gave her a big advantage on approach shots, and good scoring followed from there. Tiffany Lim ('15, San Jose, CA) used great short game and putting to shoot 75, as did Jane Lee ('12, Alamo, CA). Lee got off to a great start – shooting 2 under par for her front 9. Brenna Nelsen ('15, Monte Sereno, CA) was 7 over par through 6, but steadied herself very well and went only 1 over for the last 12 in shooting 80. Captain Christine Cho ('12, La Crescenta, CA) shot 81.
In round 2 the Crimson were able to lower their total from 304 to 301 but narrowly lost ground to the field and found themselves in 8th place. Lim and Nelsen shot solid 73's. Hu had 76. Cho improved to 79 and Lee fell to 84. Throughout the round, as the wind blew and the temperatures went up, the greens got firmer and even faster. Teams that have been outdoors and on fast greens all spring have gotten their games to a slightly more stable position and were able to adjust to changing conditions a bit faster than the Crimson. Harvard's games continue to improve each week. The Crimson practiced very hard after the round, and were the last ones on the practice area, and we know that work will pay off as we get deeper into the season.
The results of round 3 didn't directly reflect their efforts, but the each Crimson player would say they felt closer to scoring the way they want to. Lim hit the ball much better in round 3, but couldn't convert on as many putts as the first two rounds. She finished T-14th overall, continuing her streak of not finishing out of the top 15 all year. Nelsen shot 73 on Sunday to finish T-19th overall, capping a tournament where she was only 2 over par for the last 48 holes. Hu shot 80 on Sunday despite the longest and straightest driving of the tournament. Though she was frustrated to not convert on her strong positioning off the tee, she feels extremely close to scoring very low. Cho shot 78 and Lee shot 81. Harvard shot 306 on a day where scoring was slightly higher for everyone. Unfortunately they fell two more spots to 10th place. However, the Crimson were only 3 shots out of 7th, which would have been considered quite a successful tournament given the rankings.
The tournament was a great experience and close to very successful. The team was able to take advantage of 4 days (including the practice round) with good weather and a tough golf course to continue to move their games forward. Going into the event, Coach Rhoads felt that the team was playing the best of the year with the exception of the season opener at Yale six months ago. Coming out of the event the team is playing its best of the year and moving in the right direction. However, they need to do the critical work of connecting all of the pieces in the next couple of weeks leading up to the Ivy Championship.
The Crimson will have a chance to build on their solid work this week, as they leave Thursday morning for Columbia's Roar-EE Invitational in Suffern, NY.