By Theo Lederhausen '14 (pictured)
This week the Men's Harvard Golf Team traveled to New Jersey for the annual Princeton Invitational held at Springdale Golf Club. A William Flynn design, Springdale is a par 71 course located at the edge of the Princeton University campus. All Ivy teams were present with the exception of Brown. Thirty six holes were scheduled for Saturday, followed by an 18-hole final round on Sunday.
When the Crimson arrived on Friday, they found themselves playing a practice round in constant rain. The team could see that the course played longer than usual, but the conditions appeared to reward aggressive play into the greens. The forecast for the weekend was clear skies around 60 degrees. The team looked to build on a steady performance at Yale the previous week.
The first day of the tournament featured perfect weather and ideal scoring conditions. The Crimson found themselves struggling to keep up with the field. In the opening 18, team members were striking the ball well but failed to make the putts necessary to take advantage of the conditions. Mark Pollak and Theo Lederhausen led the squad with a pair of 72s. Seiji Liu and Max Campion added to the teams total with a 74 and 77 respectively. Captain Antonio Grillo struggled uncharacteristically to find the hole, posting a mediocre 78. Playing as an individual, Michael Lai '14 posted a 79 to round out the morning scores. The team finished the morning round in a tie for fourth place, 16! shots behind a great first round of five-under-par 279 by Yale.
The afternoon round brought much of the same for a struggling Crimson team. Pollak posted an even-par 71, followed by a pair of 76s by Grillo and Liu. Campion and Lederhausen had tough afternoons, shooting 81 and 82 respectively. Individual Michael Lai posted a steady 75, improving his morning play by 4 shots. The poor second-round play put the Crimson in seventh place, 34 shots behind Yale, who continued to dominate the field. With the Bulldogs out of reach, Harvard hoped to improve on its play and turn it around on Sunday for a respectable finish.
Paired with reigning Ivy-League Champion Columbia, the Crimson welcomed the opportunity to play head to head against the team that edged them out in the final tournament of the fall. Unfortunately, few Harvard players were able to capitalize. Lederhausen had a great turnaround, finishing with a one-under-par 70, followed by a 73 from Grillo. Pollak and Campion finished with 75 and 77 to round out the counting scores. Liu struggled to find his touch with the putter, coming into the clubhouse with a 78. Michael Lai played very well, bettering his previous score again by 4 to post an even-par round of 71. The slow day pushed Harvard back to 8th place, placing behind all Ivy League teams with the exception of Cornell.
The team looks to improve on mistakes and ready their games for the final two tournaments of the season, beginning with the Century Intercollegiate next weekend.