Liu Leads Harvard Men's Golf to Fifth-Place Finish at The MacDonald Cup
Seiji Liu finished tied for second at The MacDonald Cup (Harvard Athletic Communications).
By Kevin Rhoads, Head Coach
The Harvard men's golf team played their third tournament in three weeks this past weekend in the MacDonald Cup at Yale. The MacDonald Cup honors Charles Blair MacDonald – the famed architect and designer of the Golf Course at Yale. It was scheduled as a 54-hole tournament over two days at one of the great college courses in the country. The classic layout, with its enormous, interestingly contoured greens, big carries, and plenty of blind shots, was in beautiful shape given the weather of the last month, and the team was looking forward to building on the last couple of weeks.
Unfortunately the weather just could not hold for another weekend. The course received a great deal of rain on Friday, which forced the cancellation of the scheduled practice round. The Crimson were only able to walk the golf course and hit a few balls in the late afternoon; a challenge for those players who had never played the course before. The rain left the course so soft that it was also decided that the tournament would be shortened to 36 holes – 18 on Saturday and 18 on Sunday.
During the rain-shortened first day, the Crimson came to play. Despite having to attempt to adjust to slow and rain-soaked greens – nearly the opposite of last week's slick, firm, and fast greens from Chicago – Harvard did well. Seiji Liu '14 (Beverly Hills, Calif.) led the Crimson with one-under-par 69 – only 3 behind the individual leader. It was a patient round in that Liu made four late birdies to get under par. Un Cho '16 (Ancaster, Ont.) fired his best round yet at Harvard, putting together a smooth 70 characterized by good driving and solid putting. Akash Mirchandani '15 (Prospect, Ky.), again hit the ball well and managed a couple of birdies – one being a tap in birdie at the 217 yard par-3 13th en route to shooting 71. Theo Lederhausen '14 (Chicago, Ill.) tweaked his knee during a pre-round jog, but held things together well enough to fire a 3-over 73, and Kevin McCarthy '14 (Lynn, Mass.) ! also hung in to post 75. Harvard shot a 3- over par 283 as a team – their best round ever at Yale and only three shots off of their lowest team round ever. They sat in 5th place out of 15 teams, but were a mere 4 shots off of the lead. The team went to bed in good spirits expecting good things from Sunday's final round.
Rain came again overnight on Saturday. This made the course play longer but with soft, receptive greens. The team members had put in putting practice after round one, and were hoping to make some more putts in round two. Yale Course's greens are nearly always stingy. They are huge with big overall slopes and subtle slopes near the holes that usually confound players. This happened to most everyone on day two, so scoring wasn't quite as good as day one.
Liu again paced the Crimson on day 2 with a 70, his 139 total of one-under-par putting him in 2nd place overall individually – Harvard's top individual finish thus far this season. Keeping pace in the second round was Lederhausen, who despite wearing a small knee brace and taking a pull cart to make sure his knee was safe, he was able to manufacture a strong round in shooting a 70 of his own. Mirchandani continued his strong ball striking, and again birdied #13, this time from 235 yards, hitting it to 3 feet away. More importantly, he was able to again think clearly and focus on execution in shooting his second consecutive 71. Cho and McCarthy shot 78 and 79 respectively.
The Crimson shot 289 on a day when scoring was tougher than the first day. Their two-day total of 572 allowed them to hold their 5th-place position – their best finish of the season thus far, and 2nd place among Ivy schools. The team has two and a half weeks off before heading to the Princeton area for the Ivy Match Play event at TPC Jasna Polana. They will use this time in between events to stay up with their increasing course workload and to try to maintain or improve upon their level of sharpness.