Harvard won its fourth straight Ivy title to earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals (Gregory Carroccio).
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Harvard women's golf team put together two strong rounds of play to overcome a slow first day and capture the 2015 Ivy League championship Sunday afternoon at Saucon Valley Country Club, its fourth consecutive title and sixth overall under head coach Kevin Rhoads.
Harvard edged out Yale for the conference crown by one stroke, finishing the three-day event with a cumulative score of 923 (321-299-303). The Crimson's second- and third-round scores were the two lowest of the tournament after the squad found itself in fifth place following day one.
Anne Cheng (81-75-74-230) and Courtney Hooton (79-72-79-230) tied for fourth place in the individual competition, earning first team All-Ivy honors. The duo finished just three strokes back of Brown's Christine Kim (75-77-75-227) and Yale's Marika Liu (78-76-73-227) who tied for the lead, with Kim taking home the individual title after she birdied the first playoff hole.
Brenna Nelsen (81-75-75-231) fell one stroke back of Cheng and Hooton in a tie for eighth place. Tiffany Lim (80-77-79-236), meanwhile, tied for 14th while Christine Lin (82-81-75-238) took sole possession of 20th place.
With the victory, the Crimson has earned the Ivy League's automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Regionals, being held this year at four locations May 7-9. The 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships selections will be announced live on Monday, April 27, at 7 p.m. on the Golf Channel.
Ivy League Player, Rookie and Coach of the Year awards, as well as the 2015 All-Ivy teams, will be announced on Tuesday.
By Christine Lin and Anne Cheng
This weekend, the Harvard women's golf team competed at the Grace Course at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at the 2015 Ivy League Championship. The women had played this course during a competition in the fall of 2013. The secluded, lush Grace Course is designed by William Gordon and has been named to the "Top 100 Golf Courses" by Golf Digest many times. The challenging layout required precise iron shots on the lightning-fast and sloping greens. The cool and windy weather conditions during the three days also contributed to the challenge of the course.
Harvard was paired with Princeton, Brown, and Yale in the first round. The women teed off in the mid-morning in gusty, chilly winds of 20 MPH+. Harvard finished the day with a hard-fought team total of 321. Courtney Hooton '16 led the team with a 79, displaying consistent ball-striking and putting skills. Hooton played the course strategically and did a fantastic job with ball placement on fairways and greens. Tiffany Lim '15 embraced the windy conditions and relied on solid ball-striking to finish with an 80. Anne Cheng '17 and Brenna Nelsen '15 both came in with 81's, managing to hit great drives down several fairways. Christine Lin '16 had nice control of putting speed on the slick greens, salvaging an 82. Harvard women's golf battled in the tough course conditions, keeping a positive mindset during the day. The team did a wonderful job focusing on the controllable factors, and ended up fifth on the leaderboard after the first round.
The second day of the Ivy League Championships proved to be a more solid round than the first for the women of Harvard golf. Low round scorer, Courtney, maintained her presence in her ideal performance state throughout the entire stretch of 18 holes to have a fantastic even par round. She continued to strike the ball solidly and adjust to the speed of the greens. Also acclimating to the course layout, Anne managed to drain a few thirty-footer birdie putts and twenty-footer par putts to score a three-over 75. Brenna, with iron shots like lasers and a mindset focused on process, landed sixteen greens to leave herself with many potential birdies. After a consistent round and an amazing four birdies, Brenna also carded a solid three-over 75. Tiffany embraced the speedy greens and had several lag putts that left her with easy tap-in second putts. She focused intensely on every shot and was "totally in the ideal performance state". With improved ball striking from the fairways, Christine successfully hit more greens to shoot an 81. Overall, the second round allowed the team to place itself in a favorable position going into the third day—both Harvard and Columbia tied for the lead.
On the third day, the Harvard women's golf team teed off alongside Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. Anne led the Crimson with a 74, hitting several greens and making smooth putting strokes. Christine and Brenna followed with 75's. Brenna started off with a shaky start but quickly regained ground on the back nine with several nice birdies. Christine had great course management and acquired a fine grasp of the green speed for the day. Tiffany and Courtney both carded 79's for the day. Tiffany had exceptional up and downs from the bunkers and stuck several approach shots near the pin. Courtney had a rough front nine but stayed focused and quickly resumed to striking the ball consistently. Everyone held through to the end, making sure to focus only on the shot in front of them.
Harvard clinched the Ivy League title for the fourth year in a row with a narrow 1-stroke victory over runner-up Yale. Despite the tough winter in Boston, the team did an outstanding job dealing with unfamiliar playing conditions. It was an incredible experience playing at Saucon Valley, and we would like to thank the Saucon Valley staff for hosting the championship this year. We are excited for and looking forward to NCAA Regionals. Special congratulations go out to seniors Brenna Nelsen and Tiffany Lim for accomplishing a historic four-peat Ivy championship win. We are extremely grateful for the support of all our coaches Kevin and Claire, Fred, family, friends, and alums cheering for the Crimson in the gallery. We would also like to extend our appreciation to all the friends of Harvard Golf for your continued support!