“Having our own tournament is always really special,” senior Michelle Xie said. “It was our first tournament for the spring season so it was a pretty big deal to play well and place second compared to some of the other teams.”
With a cumulative score of 891 (304-292-295) over the three rounds, the Crimson found itself level with Pennsylvania, and trailing only Princeton who topped the leaderboard with a score of 880 (292-293-295). Dartmouth (909) and Navy (909) rounded out the top five.
The Tigers' team success was also reflected on the individual leaderboard. Juniors Annabelle Chang and Maya Walton led the way, placing first and second respectively. The duo shot four-under-par and three-under-par over the three rounds. This included a tournament-low 68 for Walton in the second round.
This win for Princeton is not that surprising when you consider the fact that the Harvard Invitational was already the group’s third competition of the season. On the other hand, the Crimson was just beginning its tournament play. Its first round score of 304 was an indication of the rustiness associated with a long offseason. Once that wore off, the second and third rounds were much different.
“Mainly our goal was to get used to competing again and see what we needed to work on,” freshman Anina Ku said. “As a team I think we’d agree that we did that and are ready to use what we learned.”
The group emphasized that the final scorecard is certainly not all that matters in the grand scheme of things. Harvard wants to display a steady improvement throughout the course of the season.
“Obviously we love to win and we’re pretty results oriented in that way, but we’re also pretty process focused,” Xie said. “Just focusing on what steps I need to take, am I doing them right, have I practiced all the areas that I need to, and if so then I should feel good going into the next round.”
Ku and fellow freshman Elizabeth Wang led the charge for the Crimson. Wang snagged fifth place with a score of 216 (73-70-73) and Ku was tied for ninth overall by going eight-over-par for the tournament.
Ku started off a bit shaky with a 79 in the first round, but quickly righted the ship. The N.J. native improved her score on each round, securing a 73 in the second and 72 in the third.
“I started off pretty rough my first round,” Ku said. “Things didn’t feel right but I knew I was really close. I stayed positive and kept fighting on and suddenly it clicked and the rest of the tournament was pretty smooth sailing. I was really happy with how I hung in there.”
Another solid Harvard performance was turned in by senior Anna Zhou. She displayed a similar turnaround to that of Ku. A 77 first round was quickly erased by scores of 72 and 73 to finish at six-over-par for the competition.
Wang achieved her success by displaying a great deal of consistency. In all three of her rounds she shot 73 or better, and she finished with 13 birdies. This is just a continuation of her strong play from the fall when she led the Crimson with a 71.57 stroke average.
“[Elizabeth] was our leader this tournament and this was her third top-five finish this year which is pretty great,” Ku said. “Definitely such a word worker and knows how to self evaluate and work on each individual part [of her game]... It motivates us to keep pushing forward with an attitude that is similar to hers.”
The team will soon be put to its second test. A matchplay event hosted by Princeton is slated for this upcoming weekend. After that, the Ivy League championships are only two weeks away. This spring season will fly by, and the squad will need to take advantage of every opportunity in order to prepare for that final stage.
— Staff writer Kostas Tingos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.