Courtney Hooton placed tied for ninth (Casey Valentine).
By Anne Cheng '17
On Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5, 2014, the Harvard Women's golf team opened their spring tournament season with the Rebel Intercollegiate at Ole Miss Golf Course at Oxford, Mississippi. After coming back from spring break, the weather did not allow for much outdoor play and practice – which made it difficult to sustain the momentum built up over spring break. However, the team made the most of what it had and was ready to hit the ground running in Mississippi. The grass except for the greens on the Ole Miss golf course was still dormant from the winter, but the greens were quite smooth and many blooming cherry blossom trees added to the overall beauty of the course. The team enjoyed the opportunity to be able to play outside at a wonderful course with so many other great college teams. The field of 18 teams contained Kentucky (ranked #27 nationally), GRU Augusta (#32), Tulane (#33), East Te nnessee State(#43), and Notre Dame(#44) – the strongest field in which they have played all year. (Harvard entered the tournament ranked #62 nationally having curiously dropped from #55 after their strong spring break showing.) Almost all of the other teams were on their 3rd or 4th tournament of the spring season, with their Conference Championships either this week or next week. Thus it was a good, challenging field for the Crimson.
On the first day, Courtney Hooton '16 and Anne Cheng '17 led the team with a score of one over 73. Both Hooton and Cheng had rounds that felt mediocre--all aspects of their games were consistent and steady, yet nothing exceptional or amazing except their ability to manage what they had. Bonnie Hu '14 and Tiffany Lim '15 also had great rounds with a score of two over 74. Lim's mastery of bunker shots allowed her to make four crucial sand saves for par. Hu's solid ball striking as well as putting helped her score low. And lastly, Christine Lin '16, recovering from missing 4 days of practice with the flu the previous week, had a solid first-day score of 78. She played smartly, hit her drives down the center of fairways, and swung her iron shots onto the greens. Though not sharp, the Crimson managed their games and themselves extremely well, and did well relative to the field on the first day. Their 294 total was just two strokes off of second place, and only eight shots out of first place.
Due to potential inclement weather on Sunday, the tournament committee decided to play thirty-six holes on Saturday, rather than risk playing eighteen holes on Saturday then eighteen holes on Sunday. This was hard on the Crimson since, being short on rounds, every practice session in between rounds is extra important for making the slight adjustments in technique necessary after the feedback from the course. The course also played slightly more challenging on Saturday than the day before with tricky pin positions and windier conditions. However, these factors did not lessen the determination of the Harvard team – instead it strengthened it.
Courtney Hooton, the ever-consistent player, had two more low rounds of 72-73 that included many scrambling pars and some clutch birdies. Other than the two double-bogeys on her scorecard over 36 holes, Hooton had quite the solid rounds. Her two-over total tied her for ninth place in individual rankings – a great early-season result. Little by little Lin found her game in the second and third rounds, and managed a comeback with scores of 73-72. She hit good iron shots, had a lot of up-and-downs, and her putting stroke got progressively better throughout the day. Cheng scored 78-74 and had some uncharacteristic putting. Hu finished with 74-79, with a solid first round but a variable second round. Lim closed out the tournament with 80-75, finding her form in the second round hitting more greens and finally getting some putts to drop after hitting lots of good putts without reward in the first two roun ds.
Overall, the Harvard Women's golf team captured eighth place with a team total of 885 – the second lowest 54-hole tournament score in team history. Despite being at the beginning of their spring season while the rest of the teams were in mid-season form, they played to their ranking and even beat Notre Dame by 19 shots. The team had a wonderful experience at Ole Miss. The tournament was extremely well-run, and the southern hospitality was in full force. They will definitely miss Ole Miss and Mississippi until next year. They now turn their attention to Brown's tournament at Rhode Island Country Club April 13-14, where they will work to build on the momentum gained from this tournament. Temperatures and weather conditions should be good enough this week to play and practice outdoors, so the teams will certainly be focused on continuing to sharpen their games. Thank you all so much for your support of Harvard Women's Golf!!