Seiji Liu and the Crimson return to action at The MacDonald Cup Sept. 29-30 (Harvard Athletic Communications).
By Kevin Rhoads, Head Coach
The Harvard Men's team traveled to Chicago September 22-24 for the Windon Memorial hosted by Northwestern. The event was played at Skokie Country Club. The course was designed by Thomas Bendelow in 1904, and reworked in 1914 by Donald Ross. In addition to the beautiful rolling topography, like all Ross courses, the greens were heavily sloped, usually from back to front. And like most Chicago-area courses, the greens were fantastic - smooth and true, but also very fast and difficult.
In Saturday's practice round the Windy City lived up to its name, and things continued that way for all three tournament rounds. Temperatures for Saturday's practice round started in the low 40's with wind. Sunday's temperatures were similar, and started calm, but the wind came up by the time Harvard teed off in the last wave in the morning. Like any Donald Ross course with fast greens and windy conditions, the effective green sizes shrank considerably. Additionally, because the wind was swirling, distance control became part skill-execution and part educated guesswork. Harvard along with the majority of the field found that combination challenging.
Akash Mirchandani ('15, Louisville, Ky.) led the Crimson in the first round, shooting an impressive 73 in which he had one birdie and three bogeys. Almost every player in the field had some holes on which they recorded a double-bogey or worse. Given the severity of the greens, wind, and pin positions, unless one left their ball 'under the hole' or not short-sided, a score higher than bogey was a distinct possibility. Captain Theo Lederhausen ('14, Chicago, Ill.), was even par through 13 holes, but lost a couple shots on the tough finishing holes to finish with 75.
Seiji Liu ('14, Beverly Hills, Calif.) was only 2 over through 10, but settled for an 81. Kevin McCarthy ('14, Lynn, Mass.) had the opposite experience: a tough start through 6 holes, but was only 2 over for his last 11 holes in shooting 81. Un Cho ('16, Ancaster, Ont.), playing in his first collegiate tournament, also had a rough start but settled nicely on his last 11 holes, and he shot 82. Harvard totaled 310 in the first round, which left them in 13th place, and 3 shots out of 9th place.
Sunday was a 36-hole day and play was continuous from the first to the second round. Lederhausen again started strong, shooting 1-over on the front side. Mirchandani was also off to a good start – sitting at 2-over through 15 holes. The rest of the team's scores were a bit higher. But daylight was starting to fade, and everyone knew that Harvard's groups wouldn't finish their second round before the light. By the time play was called due to darkness, Lederhausen, playing in the last group, had only finished 13 holes. Harvard and their playing partners needed to come out Monday morning to finish their 2nd round, then re-pair the groups, then play their last round as a shotgun start.
Monday morning turned out to have a frost delay! The scheduled 7:30am start was delayed to 9:00am. And the calm conditions that Harvard had seen in the last ½ hour of play on Sunday became gusty, swirly winds to go with very cold temperatures. Given that the last 3 holes included a 250-yard par 3, a 455-yard dogleg left par 4, and a 464-yard uphill par 4, it was tough to have to start the morning with those holes in cold and windy conditions. Lederhausen shot 77 and Mirchandani 78, while Liu, Cho, and McCarthy shot 81, 81, and 84 respectively. The Crimson were collectively 17 over par on those 3 holes while trying to finish off the last round, and shot 317.
Through the last round Harvard played quite solidly and managed their games pretty well. They shot 307 - better than a number of teams that finished ahead of them overall. But they were too far back to make up ground. Lederhausen and Mirchandani shot 76's, Cho and Liu shot 77 and 78, and McCarthy 84. They finished in 14th place – but with a lot of positive lessons learned.
Interestingly, eventual champion Ohio State shot 306 in the first round – only 4 shots better than Harvard. Impressively, they were able to adjust to both weather and the golf course. They showed that although doing so is difficult – it is possible. We will try to learn from that lesson and others, and will keep striving to improve every week. The Crimson gets to play on more familiar ground this weekend, returning to Yale for the MacDonald Cup Sept 29-30.