Harvard Women's Golf Captures Ivy League Crown

Harvard Women's Golf Captures Ivy League Crown

Harvard won its third Ivy League title in program history (Greg Carroccio).

ABSECON, N.J. -- The Harvard women's golf team held off Penn by six strokes to capture the 2012 Ivy League championship, held over the weekend at the Seaview Golf Resort Bay Course.

Harvard, which won its third Ivy League title in the last five years, earns the conference's automatic NCAA tournament berth. The NCAA will broadcast its women's golf championship selection show on NCAA.com Monday, April 30 at 9 p.m. EST.

Sophomore Bonnie Hu placed first overall, winning the individual crown and garnered All-Ivy League first team honors. Hu shot 77-73-75-225, winning the individual title by five strokes, while freshman Tiffany Lim garnered Ivy Rookie of the Year and all-conference second team honors by amassing a score of 83-78-80-241.

Senior co-captain Jane Lee finished tied for 10th and also received All-Ivy second team accolades by shooting 86-82-76-244.

Rookie Brenna Nelsen accumulated a 54-hole total of 246, tying for 12th, while senior co-captain Christine Cho was tied for 15th with a combined score of 247.

By Head Coach Kevin Rhoads
The 2012 Ivy Championships are now in the books, having been contested this past weekend, April 27-29.  The tournament site stayed in the Atlantic City area. Atlantic City Country Club hosted three of the last four women's Ivy's and the new site was the Bay Course at the Seaview Golf Resort in Galloway, NJ.   
As described by the resort: "The Bay Course was designed by Donald Ross in 1914. This 18-hole bayside course runs along Reed's Bay and features 6,300 wind-swept yards, classic mounding, deep-pot and high-faced bunkers, plus small greens with [large] undulations.  Host site to the 1942 PGA Championship where Sam Snead won his first major, the Bay Course is dramatically influenced by the winds blowing off of the Atlantic Ocean and will challenge even the best golfers." The last line proved prophetic throughout the tournament, but in the extreme during Friday's first round.
Harvard teed off in the last wave of tee times on Friday, and it made things extremely difficult on the Crimson. Yale, Dartmouth, Penn, and Columbia went out first and got at least a little calmer weather. But in teeing off up to an hour and twenty minutes after the first tee times, Harvard experienced winds blowing from 20-40 mph for the entirety of their round. The wind definitely affected their ability to get on the greens. But given the Bay Club is a Donald Ross design, the players met even more challenges on and around the greens.   The combination of fast speeds, lots of undulation, tough pin placements, and recently aerated greens made putting very, very difficult. Add to that the heavy winds, and it was almost unplayable. Everyone experienced balls moving on the greens after being re-marked, and the wind influenced both putters during strokes and balls during the putts. It made for the toughest conditions that any of them had played in during their competitive careers. They handled things as well as possible. 
Bonnie Hu '14 led the Crimson on day 1 – so well in fact that she was leading the tournament after the first round. On a day where par was probably 78 or 79, she shot a 77 that left her in first place by a shot. In fact, she was one of only 3 scores in the 70's all day. Tiffany Lim '15 shot 83, Brenna Nelsen '15 and Jane Lee '12 shot 86, and Christine Cho '12 shot 87. Teeing off in the earlier two-balls, Penn posted a very impressive (given the conditions) 326 to hold a 2 shot lead over Yale, and a 6 shot lead over Harvard. Although the Crimson put themselves in a bit of a hole, they had played at least as well as Penn and Yale in the first round, but had to deal with tougher conditions. All told, Coach Rhoads was happy with how the team performed in such conditions, given that they had not played themselves out of the tournament on a day that could have made them do just that.
On day 2, the wind blew "only" 15 miles per hour. The course played a bit easier, but the absence of wind reinforced the fact that the course and the greens were super tough on their own. Some scores were better, but the average score for the day was only a couple of shots lower than day 1. Hu was able to capitalize on the conditions. She offset four bogeys and two double-bogeys (which were the norm) with 6 birdies on the day! She shot an amazing 73, one of the three low scores of the day along with Penn's Isabelle Han (who shot 72) and Columbia's Michelle Piyapattra, the 2012 Ivy Player of the Year, who also shot 73. Hu's 150 total gave her a three shot lead over second place, and set her up very well for day three. 
The rest of the team was also able to rally. Lim and Nelsen each shot 78, and Cho shot 79 – meaning that all of the Crimson's counting scores were in the 70's. Yale had 3 scores in the 70's Saturday, and no other team had more than one. Harvard's 308 was the low score of the day by 3, and allowed the Crimson to pass Penn by three shots and Yale by four. They were thus in a great position heading into day 3, and held their destiny in their own hands.
Sunday's round was a dramatic one – especially for those following online with 'Live Scoring.' Golfstat.com provides 'Live Scoring' coverage for the Ivy Championships which is updated when players pass scoring stations every four holes. But because the scores aren't updated every hole, big swings can occur in the viewers' eyes and emotions.
Day 3 was similar to day 2: wind that started around 8 mph, but increased to almost 20 mph near the very end; greens that were terribly difficult due to slope, speed, aeration holes, crazy pin positions, and wind; and pressure that was palpable from the beginning of the round.   Hu got off to a good start again, making birdie on 3. A double-bogey on 5 offset that birdie and left her at +1 for the round through 9 holes – one of the best front nine's of anyone on the course. As the wind increased, she made a couple of bogeys on the difficult back 9, and the scores drew closer.
The rest of the team hung in there as well. Lee got off to a bit of a rocky start, sitting at +5 through 7 holes. She played brilliantly from there on, making three birdies and three bogeys to play even par for the last 11 holes – the best scoring of anyone in the entire field from hole #7 onward. Lim shot 80 with one birdie, and was able to keep all double-bogeys off her card in the last round. Lee was also able to do that in the 2nd round – making Lim's and Lee's rounds the only two rounds in the tournament by any player to not have a double-bogey or higher during a given round. Cho played another solid round, and shot 81.  Nelsen had 82 in a round that included brilliant ball striking but a cold putter.
By the time Hu got to the par 5 18th hole, it seemed as if there might only be two shots separating Harvard from Penn. Hu killed a drive down the middle, hitting it 250 yards into a 20mph head/crosswind. That left her 230 to the middle of the green. She hit her 2nd shot in the fairway, and left herself approximately 50 yards for her 3rd shot. She hit a great sand wedge that was right on line, and landed pin-high. However, her ball released a bit even though it was into the wind and was hit solidly, and rolled just up on top of the tier behind the flag, leaving her a putt that many had been unable to hit softly enough. It was definitely 3-putt territory. Penn's leading player, Han, had settled her 3rd shot about 20 feet below the pin, with a fairly straightforward putt. If the scoring estimates were correct, and Han made her putt while Hu 3-putted, the two-shot swing might have left the teams tied. After all that the teams had been through, a playoff seemed a distinct possibility.  
Han went first, and luck was with Harvard. Han hit a beautiful putt that just slid by the hole on the left edge, and she tapped in for par. Now it was Hu's turn. She hit an unbelievable putt – a perfect combination of speed and line – and the ball slowly crawled down the tier and finally slid in the right side of the cup for a birdie 4!  It was a great putt in a big moment. 
When the scores were finally totaled, the final standings were close – but not quite as close as was thought. Harvard shot 312 – the low score of the day for the second day in a row. Penn shot 315, and Yale 318. This gave Harvard a 952 total – 6 shots ahead of 2nd place Penn, and 10 shots ahead of 3rd place Yale. Hu also won the individual title – in her case by a dominating 5 shots. This gives the Crimson their third Ivy Championship in the last five years – the only team to win more than 1 in the last 6 years. And Hu earned the second Ivy Individual Title in program history, along with Emily Balmert '09. It is gratifying to see the fruits of their labor pay off in both a successful regular season and the realization of their biggest yearly program goal: bringing home an Ivy Championship. 
The team now turns their attention to NCAA Regionals May 10-12 – for which they earned an automatic bid with their victory yesterday. They will find out tonight at 9 pm whether they will be sent to the West Regional at Colorado National, the Central Regional at Ohio State's Scarlet Course, or the East Regional at Penn State's Blue Course.   They look forward to testing themselves in postseason play, while simultaneously balancing their final exams!

54-Hole Team Totals
1.    Harvard (332-308-312--952)
2.    Penn (326-317-315--958)
3.    Yale (328-316-318--962)
4.    Columbia (338-311-323--972)
5.    Brown (345-327-313--985)
6.    Princeton (355-335-325--1,015)
7.    Dartmouth (345-348-336--1,029)

Individual Top-11
1.    Bonnie Hu, Harvard (77-73-75--225)*
2.    Isabel Han, Penn (81-72-77--230)*
3.    Sun Gyoung Park, Yale (78-77-76--231)*
4.    Michelle Piyapattra, Columbia (80-73-80--233)*
5.    Stephanie Hsieh, Brown (82-75-77--234)*
6.    Amanda Chin, Penn (79-82-74--235)^
7.    Kelly Shon, Princeton (85-76-75--236)^
8.    Seo Hee Moon, Yale (85-75-78--238)^
9.    Tiffany Lim, Harvard (83-78-80--241)^
10.  Ahram (Jane) Lee, Dartmouth (81-82-81--244)^
11.  Jane Lee, Harvard (86-82-76--244)^

*-First-Team All-Ivy
^-Second-Team All-Ivy

2012 Ivy League Player of the Year
Michelle Piyapattra, Columbia, So. (Corona, Calif.)

2012 Ivy League Rookie of the Year#
Tiffany Lim, Harvard, Fr. (San Jose, Calif.)

#-Unanimous decision