Ivy League Champion! Women’s Golf Grabs Second Straight Conference Crown

Ivy League Champion! Women’s Golf Grabs Second Straight Conference Crown

The Harvard women's lacrosse team has won won four of the last six Ivy League crowns (Ryan Samson/The Ivy League).

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – The Harvard women's golf team defeated Princeton by a single stroke, 909-910, to capture the squad's second straight Ivy League title at the Trump National Golf Club. The Crimson led after all three days of competition and became the first school since Yale in 1998 to win the conference crown by one shot.

Harvard, which won its fourth Ancient Eight title in the last six years under head coach Kevin Rhoads, 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.

Freshman Christine Lin was tabbed the Ivy League Rookie of the Year after finishing second overall. Lin tied for first after the third day of team competition, but fell to Princeton's Kelly Shon in a playoff. Lin posted a cumulative score of 221 (73-74-71), as she also took home All-Ivy first team honors. Lin is Harvard's fourth Ivy Rookie of the Year in the last five seasons.

Classmate Courtney Hooton also garnered all-conference first team accolades, as she placed fourth overall. Hooton shot 77-73-75 for a three-day total of 225.

Rounding out Harvard's All-Ivy selections was junior co-captain Bonnie Hu, who earned All-Ancient Eight second team honors. Hu placed sixth with a score of 229 (74-74-81).

Sophomore Tiffany Lim finished 14th overall, shooting 237 (80-80-77), while junior Brenna Nelsen was tied for 23rd (83-81-83-247).

Following Harvard's 909, Princeton shot 910, while Yale (930), Columbia (944), Penn (954), Brown (992) and Dartmouth (1002) finished third through seventh, respectively.

By the Members of the Women's Golf team

The 2013 Ivy League Women's Golf Championships was held at the breathtaking Trump National Golf Club April 26-28, 2013. The course was familiar to some, as both Tiffany Lim and Brenna Nelsen competed at the venue in the 2009 U.S. Girl's Junior Championships. The course is also slated to host the 2017 U.S. Women's Open.

At just over 6,000 yards, navigating Trump National was no easy task. The course demanded accuracy off the tee and precise iron shots. The greens were firm and fast, with subtle breaks and undulations that kept the players on their toes all three days. It was a course fit for a championship. Combined with three days of beautiful weather, it made the Ivy League Championships an exciting event for all.

The Crimson was lucky enough to have a large supporting group out to watch the tournament. Each player had at least one parent make the trek out to watch, in addition to some alums and other spectators. Notably, past men's team captain Paul Weissman '52 was in attendance on Saturday continuing his tremendous support of the program.  Playing in front of family and friends made the tournament all the more exciting.

After the practice round, the team dressed up for the annual year-end banquet. Players and coaches from all seven teams were treated to a delicious buffet at the Trump clubhouse. A special feature of the Ivy League Championships is the random drawing of tee times that evening. The Crimson drew a place in the last group, pairing them with Penn and Brown the next day.

The Crimson started off strong on Day 1 with Freshman Christine Lin ('16, Austin, TX) relying on smart course management and good ball striking to shoot a solid 73, not to mention a chip-in birdie on 17. Captain Bonnie Hu ('14, Fremont, CA) and Freshman Courtney Hooton ('16 Del Mar, CA) followed behind with hard-earned scores of 74 and 77, each of them notching multiple birdies despite difficult pin placements. The highlight of Courtney's round: back-to-back birdies after draining a 40-foot putt and chipping in on the next hole. Sophomores Tiffany Lim ('15, San Jose, CA) and Brenna Nelsen ('15, Monte Sereno, CA) rounded out the group shooting 80 and 83, respectively. On a course layout measuring over 7 miles long on extremely hilly terrain, Nelsen's round was exceptionally commendable, given her recent return to competition after a flare-up of long-term lower-leg injury at Ole Miss.  She has hardly been able to practice since the beginning of the month, so playing through pain and on little practice was important for the team score and morale.  After some post-round work, the team went back to the hotel for some much needed rest, excited to be holding a 3-stroke lead over Penn, but ready to play some more good golf in the coming days.

Going into Day 2, the team was once again in the final wave of tee times, playing with Penn and Princeton. Despite the difficult hole locations throughout the course, the Crimson managed to stay focused and post solid scores that would help them maintain their slim lead. Hooton led the way with a 1-over par 73, a great comeback from being 3-over on the front nine alone. Lin and Hu followed it up with a pair of 74's. Christine finished strong on the last few holes to recover from a rough start, and Bonnie managed to shoot the exact same front nine and back nine scores that she had shot on the first day. Rounding out the group, Lim and Nelsen shot 80 and 81, respectively. Tiffany managed an amazing 27 putts for the round, and Brenna persevered despite a much more painful day with her ankle. At the end of the day, the team managed to improve on their first round total by 3 strokes, from 304 to 301.

Entering the final round with a 4-stroke lead, each Crimson player focused on staying in her own element, being patient, and controlling the controllable factors. The Crimson teed off in the morning under the cool temperatures and light winds. The difficult pin placements and fast greens required smart placement of iron shots and at times difficult putts. However, each player was strategic and committed to every shot, which produced great results.  In their strongest tournament of the year, Princeton mounted a furious charge that pushed the Crimson.  Through nine holes Harvard had a five shot lead.  Through 13 the lead was only four.  Through 15 it was just three.

The story of Nelsen's week: she played 15 good holes and just had a few high holes in shooting 83 - typical of someone playing well but who hasn't played many holes.  Though Hu had a tough back nine, she persevered and shot 81.  Lim was even par through 10 holes and only one over through 13, and shot an important 77.  Hooton also ended up with a great score of 75, despite having a rough start on the first few holes. She made many clutch putts for par and had solid iron shots. Freshman Lin had the performance of the day – and her best tournament of the year at the most critical of times. She drove the ball quite well, placed her irons shots in good positions on the greens given the tough pins, and had great putting as well.  Though the course was playing tough, she was an amazing three-under through 15 holes.  Everyone was playing the last couple of holes over par, as 17 and 18 were playing extremely tough, especially with the pressure.  It came down to the last couple of putts on the last hole.  Lin managed to find the front edge of the difficult 18th green with the pin in the middle of the green just below the tier.  Princeton's Kelly Shon, this year's Ivy Player of the Year, hit her approach a bit long - on the green but on top of the tier. Lin putted to about six feet below the hole, and Shon sent her putt six feet past the hole.  Lin missed her putt, which at that time left Harvard only one shot ahead of Princeton, and individually one shot off the lead set by Shon.  ; So Shon had a six foot putt to win outright individually and put the teams into a tie.  She missed.   

Lin shot 71, the low score of the day.  Her round helped give Harvard its second Ivy Championship in a row, and its fourth in six years.  Her round also put her tied for first individually with Shon, which meant they would face each other in a sudden death playoff. The first playoff hole was Hole 1 – a par 4 featuring a huge slope on the left side of the green, and a hazard lining the right side of the green. Christine missed the green on her 2nd shot and was not able to get up and down for par while Shon hit the green and two-putted for par and for the win. Even so, the Crimson was super thrilled and excited for the team-win and each player's individual scoring.  Lin and Hooton earned first-team All Ivy honors.  Hu earned second-team All Ivy.  Lim finished T14, and Nelsen finished T23 – a fantastic team performance that was the difference in the end.    Lin was voted Ivy League Rookie of the Year -- the fourth Harvard Rookie of the Year in the five years that it has been awarded. 

As always, the Ivy Champion automatically qualifies for NCAA Regional play.  The live selection show will air tonight at 9pm and will determine which of the three regions Harvard will be sent to.  The tournament sites are Oklahoma in the Central Regional, Auburn in the East Regional, and Stanford for the West Regional, all played May 9-11.  Each region will contain 21 teams, and the best fields of the year.  The team will keep working diligently on their golf games in preparation for Regionals, and at the same time be working even harder on preparation for finals. 

Coaches Rhoads, Sheldon, and Schernecker would like to thank all of the parents for coming and supporting the teams this week and all year, all of the Friends for their ongoing support, and every other person and facility that has helped the program to get where they are.  Most of all, the coaches want to thank the team members for all the smart and hard work, the determination, and the mental toughness.   In many ways this has been the team's most successful year, but this has been the year with the most adversity to overcome.  They have represented themselves and Harvard beautifully.