Hu Leads Harvard Women's Golf at Stanford Invitational

Bonnie Hu and the Crimson tied for 14th at the Stanford Invitational (Fred Schernecker).

By Kevin Rhoads, Head Coach, and Claire Sheldon, Assistant Coach

Last weekend the Women's Golf team competed in the Stanford Intercollegiate tournament for the first time ever.  Stanford's tournament always draws an impressively strong field and this year was no exception.  The 17-team field included five top-10 teams and a number of top-25 teams, making it one of the most competitive tournaments in the nation this year, second only to the NCAA National Championship.  Needless to say, it was an honor and a privilege to be included in this field. 
Besides an exceptionally strong field, this tournament is special for a number of other reasons.  First, Stanford Golf Course is one of the best college golf courses in the country.  It is located adjacent to campus, and is a challenging, fair, and fun test of golf.  The course was designed by William Bell and George C. Thomas, who also designed the famed course at Riviera Country Club, the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club, and Bel Air Country Club.  Tom Watson, class of '72 at Stanford, describes Stanford's course this way: "The Stanford course is a joy to play. It is both beautiful and difficult, and requires you to master every shot. It is a complete golf course."
Second, it was very special to have Stanford Professor and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice serve as the tournament host.  Now serving as a Professor of Political Economy at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, Professor Rice is an influential example and role model for everyone, especially bright and talented young ladies.  She is an enthusiastic supporter of women in higher education, athletics, and golf in particular, and recently became one of the first two female members at Augusta National Golf Club.
Last, it was a great pleasure to compete in such a prestigious event in Northern California.  Harvard's present squad includes three players from the San Francisco Bay Area:  Captain Bonnie Hu is from Fremont, Brenna Nelsen is from Monte Serreno, and Tiffany Lim is from San Jose, California.  Living within 30 minutes of the course allowed lots of local family, alumni, and friends to come support the team, though it should also be noted that in addition to the Hus, Nelsens, and Lims, both Courtney Hooton and Christine Lin also had family make trips from Southern California and Texas to watch the team.  The show of support was overwhelming, and made everyone feel very at-home.
The Crimson began their trip to California on Wednesday evening. Although they arrived well after midnight, the time difference along with a later start to their practice round the next day allowed team members to limit their jetlag. The weather for Thursday's practice round was perfect – a little too perfect, in fact – as temperatures neared the upper-eighties. However, after having practiced in cold and damp conditions for the past two weeks, the team welcomed the unseasonably warm weather and ability to play in fewer layers of clothing.
Harvard was the first team to tee off on Friday morning, playing at 8:30am alongside Washington and UCLA, who are ranked No. 1 and No. 38 in the country, respectively, according to Golfweek. Conditions were cool and cloudy in the morning, but soon cleared to reveal another perfect day. The team got off to a great start, hitting many good shots and proving that they belonged in the field.  Although they had a very good back-nine in the making, a few of the players struggled over their last three holes of the round, playing those holes in a combined 10-over par to finish with a team score of 304.  This was their highest team score of the fall, and left Harvard tied for 15th place.  Captain Bonnie Hu '14 (Fremont, Calif/) led the team with a two-over par 73, while Brenna Nelsen '15 (Monte Sereno, Calif.), Tiffany Lim '15 (San Jose, Calif.), and Courtney Hooton '16 (Del Mar, Calif.) each shot 77. Christine Lin '16 (Austin, Texas) played her last three holes in one-under par to finish with a 78.  All in all, it was a good day on the course and everyone was eager for another chance to play on Saturday.
Once again California lived up to its reputation, giving us another prefect day on Saturday, this time with slightly cooler temperatures.  Harvard started on the 10th hole on Saturday and played with San Jose State and Pepperdine.  Again, Harvard got off to a great start and was able to maintain their level of play throughout a long day on the course.  Every Harvard player either matched or improved upon her score from the previous day.  Hu paced the team once again, this time shooting a one-over par 72. Nelsen and Hooton also came in with 72, while Lin and Lim finished with 74 and 77, respectively. Harvard would finish the day with a total of 290, which was good enough to improve their standing from 15thto 13th, and just three strokes out of the t! op ten. Harvard's 290 was also tied for the sixth lowest score of the day. If anyone out there had a question about whether Harvard belonged in the field at Stanford, Harvard's performance on Saturday answered that question definitively.
A special day on the course with many Friends, family, and alums spectating turned into a special evening.  Jessica Hazlett '08 and her parents hosted the team and parents for dinner on Saturday evening at their home in Palo Alto. It's always great to see Friends, family, and alumns when we travel – thank you Hazletts!
The ladies got off to an early start on Sunday morning, loading all of their luggage into the van at 6am before heading to the golf course. Harvard started on the 10th hole once again, this time playing with Oregon and San Jose State. The coolest of the three days, Sunday's temperatures maxed out in the upper-60s.  Sunday was also the most challenging day for the Crimson, and the team fought its way to a final round score of 298 to finish the tournament tied for 14th place.  To finish tied for 14th in a field of 17 teams might seem disappointing.  However, given the strength of the teams in the field, Harvard did quite well and put on a very respectable performance. In fact, Harvard's finish at Stanford helped the Crimson become the 45th ranked team in the country at time of writing.
Upon the conclusion of the final round, Professor Rice presented the first place trophy to USC, and took pictures with each of the teams (see picture attached to this email).  Before heading to the airport for the redeye flight home, the team spent some time doing homework and relaxing at the Nelsen's house.  A huge thank you to the Nelsen's for their hospitality!
This was a fantastic event for us, and not just because it was the most competitive tournament we have ever played in. Thank you to all the Friends and family who came out to support us this weekend.  We hope to see you at Stanford again next year!

The completion of the Stanford tournament marks the end of fall competition for the Crimson. Many players are already in the midst of "midterm season" and their workload is rapidly increasing.  The team will continue to practice sporadically throughout the fall until the course closes, at which point the team will move indoors for the winter.  The much-needed time off will give players a chance to get a handle on academic work, make and refine changes to their swings, and hit the gym.  This has been a record-breaking fall season in many ways and we couldn't have done any of it without the generous support of our Friends. Thank you!