Bonnie Hu tied for 11th overall at the Yale Invitational (Harvard Athletic Communications).
By Claire Sheldon, Women's Assistant Golf Coach
After a highly successful 2011-2012 season, in which the team won four full-field tournaments and the Ivy Championship, the 2012-2013 campaign began with a trip to New Haven for the Yale Intercollegiate Tournament. The Yale Golf Course is always a team favorite, though with large, undulating greens and numerous elevated and blind approach shots, it often shows "tough love". Good shots are rewarded and poor shots are punished; to score well, one must play well.
The team was eager to get the season underway. The five-woman Harvard squad is smaller than in years past, but it is a strong team with the potential to do great things this year. Junior Captain, Bonnie Hu (Freemont, Calif.) and sophomores Tiffany Lim (San Jose, Calif.) and Brenna Nelsen (Monte Sereno, Calif.) are joined by freshmen Countney Hooton (Del Mar, Calif.) and Christine Lin (Austin, Texas) to round-out the team. These five women are strong players who have each demonstrated the ability to "go low". Furthermore, they have already created an incredibly positive, supportive, and fun atmosphere. This is special group.
The tournament field was perhaps the strongest it's been in recent years, and included six of the seven Ivy golf teams, as well as Penn State and the reigning Division II champions, Nova Southeastern. The tournament scheduling has evolved. Initially a two-day, two-round event, the Yale tournament later became a two-day, three-round event. This year Yale decided to host a three-day, three-round event. The Crimson would play along-side Yale, Penn State, and Nova Southeastern for the first two rounds of competition before the teams would be "reshuffled" and grouped by score for the final round of play.
Friday brought clear skies, temperatures in the low-seventies, and ideal conditions for the first round of play. It was a long day on the golf course. The round ended nearly six hours after the shotgun start. Lim led the team with a one-over par 73, with Nelsen, Hu, and Lin right behind her, shooting 74, 75, and 76, respective. Hooton followed just behind with 78. On a course where experience and insider knowledge is crucial, the team's Day 1 total of 298 was a solid first-round score, which put the team tied for second-place with Penn State and six shots behind leaders Nova Southeastern.
Saturday was slightly cooler but it was nonetheless another great day. The team continued to adjust to the pace of the greens on Day 2 and was able to shoot a combined score of 294 – their second lowest team score at Yale. By no means was this an easy task -- the team remained focused and patient throughout another long round. Lin paced the team with an even-par round of 72, while Hu and Lim each shot 73. Nelsen and Hooton rounded out the team with 76's. The conclusion of Day 2 saw the Crimson drop into 3rd place, as Nova Southeastern distanced themselves from the field by shooting an impressive team score of 281 (seven-under par), and Penn State pulled just three shots ahead of the Crimson. It became clear that this was going to be a battle for second place.
With Sunday came crystal clear blue skies, temperatures in the high sixties, and cool gusting winds that served as a reminder that summer had faded into fall. Swirling winds added a new challenges to the course, which led to higher scores for most teams, but not Harvard. Lim shot her best round of the tournament, 72, to finish in 5th place overall, while Nelsen birdied her last three holes to shoot 72, as well. Hu and Lin continued their consistent play, shooting 74 and 76, respectively. Hooton hit every green and fairway through the first 11 holes, but struggled a bit on the back nine to finish with 81. Characteristic of their ability to persevere, the team matched their score from the previous day with another 294 to finish third with a three-day total of 886, their lowest 54-hole total ever at Yale and their lowest average score of fewer rounds. Harvard finished just one shot behind Penn State, a! nd 23 shots ahead of fourth place Yale. Nova Southeastern continued to have a fantastic tournament and finished with a three-day total of 859 (5 under par) and individuals in first, second, and third place.
The team played well all weekend. To be the top-finishing Ivy team is always rewarding. Next weekend the team will travel to Penn State for the Nittany Lion Women's Invitational -- another three-day tournament with a strong field of competitors. You can follow our progress throughout the weekend with LiveScoring from Golfstat here and our new live twitter feed here.