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Harvard Men's Golf Posts Strong Finish at Princeton Invitational

Senior co-captain Tony Grillo finished tied for sixth at the tournament (Harvard Athletic Communications).

By: Kevin McCarthy ‘14

The Harvard Men’s Golf Team started off their spring tournament season by playing the Princeton Invitational at the Springdale Golf Club in Princeton, New Jersey. Springdale Golf Club is a beautiful Par 71, 6380 yard layout that borders some portions of Princeton University’s picturesque campus. The course is primarily composed of short doglegs with difficult greens that need to be managed strategically. While playing a practice round on Friday afternoon, the Crimson mapped out a plan of attack to take advantage of all birdie opportunities during the 54-hole tournament. After a long day of travel and practicing, the team retired to their hotel to get some much needed rest before 36 holes of play on Saturday.

During the first round of the tournament, the Crimson played fairly well in the fantastic 75 degree weather. Captain Tony Grillo (’12) lead the way with a blistering 4-under round of 67 that put him at the top of the leaderboard. Other scores for the Crimson included 71 for Mark Pollak (’12), 75 for Theo Lederhausen (’14), 76 for Akash Mirchandani (’15), 78 for Michael Lai (’14), and 74 for Kevin McCarthy (’14) who was playing as an individual. After a quick lunch between rounds, the team headed back out onto the course for their second 18 holes.

The Crimson collectively played better in the afternoon round as they knew how to best handle certain holes after experiencing the pin positions during the morning. Sophomore Michael Lai lead the way with a one-under round of 70 as his putting improved substantially from the previous 18 holes. Lai was followed by Tony Grillo (’12) who followed up his stellar first round with a 71, Theo Lederhausen (’14) with a 72, Mark Pollak (’12) with a 75, Akash Mirchandani (’15) with a 75, and Kevin McCarthy (’14) with a 70 as well. McCarthy’s one-under round was highlighted by a hole-in-one on the 5th hole, a 190 yard Par 3, where the Sophomore got his first career ace by hitting a six-iron that landed on the front of the difficult green and slowly rolled into the cup. At the conclusion of the second round, the Crimson were right in the mix of teams at the top, as they were only 2 strokes back from the leader, Yale. In addition, Tony Grillo (’12) lead the individual competition after a playing two remarkable rounds of golf.

On Sunday, the final round of the tournament was played in unseasonably warm conditions as temperatures reached 85 degrees. Eager to make a charge to win, the Crimson got off to a hot start with Akash Mirchandani (’15) being 3-under par through his first seven holes. However, the difficult Springdale Golf Club greens eventually got the best of the Crimson, leading to disappointingly average scores for the team.  Michael Lai (’14) lead the way again by shooting an even par round of 71 in which his stellar short game saved him a considerable number of strokes. Other scores for the Crimson included a solid round of 72 from Akash Mirchandani (’15), a 74 from Mark Pollak (’12), a 75 from Tony Grillo (’12), a 76 from Theo Lederhausen (’14), and a 74 from Kevin McCarthy (’14). Harvard finished 5th in the tournament, as Yale took home first place with a score of 858.

The Princeton Invitational offered a glimpse of just how competitive the Ivy League Championship will be in a few weeks as all 8 teams played to a narrow range of 3-round scores.

The hard work of Coach Green of Princeton and all of the staff at Springdale Golf Club is greatly appreciated as the event was wonderfully organized and operated in a truly professional manner. The Crimson will play their second tournament of the spring next weekend at the Century Intercollegiate.