Women's Golf Wins Third Straight Ivy Title; Cheng Tabbed Rookie of the Year

Women's Golf Wins Third Straight Ivy Title; Cheng Tabbed Rookie of the Year

The Harvard women's golf team will advance to the NCAA Regionals (Ivy League).

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. -- For the third year in a row, the Harvard women's golf team has won the Ivy League title, taking first at the Baltusrol Golf Club this weekend. The Crimson finished with a three-day score of 297-297-306-900.

Harvard earns the League's automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals, which will take place at three sites May 8-10. The 2014 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships selections will be announced live on Monday, April 28 during Golf CentralGolf Channel's daily signature news show, with dedicated segments airing that evening from 6-7 p.m. ET.

"The women's team had a pretty dominating week leading to their third Ivy championship in a row - something no other Ivy women's team has ever accomplished," said Kevin Rhoads, the head coach of Harvard men's and women's golf. "The team played great and also managed themselves and the course very well on Baltusrol's Upper Course - which required precise ball-striking and creative, precise, and patient putting. It was also nice redemption for four years ago when we had a very strong team, but did not win Ivy's at Baltusrol. For a very difficult course, the team put up some very good scores, leading to a 21-shot victory over 2nd place Princeton."

"Also, it was a very strong five-shot individual victory for Anne Cheng," Rhoads continued. "She shot very impressive scores of 70,72,75 to put an exclamation point on her Ivy Rookie of the Year campaign."

Anne Cheng was tabbed the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, and she earned All-Ivy first-team honors. Cheng won the Ivy individual title, shooting 70-72-75-217 over the course of the weekend.

Tiffany Lim also garnered All-Ivy first-team status, finishing with a score of 80-70-77-217. Bonnie Hu (75-79-76-230) and Christine Lin (75-77-78) were each named to the All-Ancient Eight second team.

Brenna Nelsen finished tied for 16th, shooting 77-78-82-237.

After Harvard in the final standings, Princeton (921) placed second, followed by Columbia (929), Yale (930), Penn (940), Dartmouth (980) and Brown (1009).

By Brenna Nelsen '15

Looking to claim its third straight Ivy League title, the Harvard women's golf team headed south to Springfield, N.J. this weekend to compete in the 2014 Ivy League Championships. The esteemed Baltusrol Golf Club—host of eight major championships—was the site of both the men's and women's contests, providing a unique opportunity for both Crimson teams to compete in the same vicinity. With four wins under its belt this season, the team entered the weekend confident in its work in the weeks leading up to the championship and with a great mental outlook.

After driving down the evening prior, the team took to the Upper Course on Thursday morning for its practice round. The course was a test from tee to green, requiring accurately placed drives on sloping fairways. The greens were quick with significant breaks, putting a premium on well-placed approach shots. In its practice, the team once again committed to its process focus. Unlucky bounces and near misses on the greens were bound to happen on such a challenging course, but the team resolved to put forth its best effort and focus in the days ahead.

Fortunately for the Crimson, day one got off to a great start. Playing in the first wave out alongside Princeton—who last year finished just one shot shy of Harvard in the race for the 2013 Ivy title—the Crimson were quick to set the pace (both timing, and score) on the course. Anne Cheng '17 led the way for Harvard, firing an opening round 70 to take the individual overnight lead.  Christine Lin '16 stayed steady, hitting many fairways and greens en route to a 75. Co-captain Bonnie Hu '14 followed suit, as her solid ball striking tee to green led to a 75. Brenna Nelsen '15 carded a 77, a round that included 11 straight pars to open the tournament. Classmate Tiffany Lim '15 finished with 80.

After the first day, Harvard found themselves with an eight-shot lead, a nice margin but by no means insurmountable with two days left of play. Besides, the Crimson players were not so much focused on their scores relative to field as they were on their individual play. After the round, all five players practiced. Some—like Hu—chose not to look at the scoreboard, intent on playing their own game for the remainder of the championship.

Saturday afternoon, the Crimson returned for the second round and an HYP pairing.  Harvard was again playing alongside the Tigers.  Yale, as the third-place team, was added to the group. Harvard continued to build its lead, refusing to let three late-round lightning delays deter its momentum. Lim shaved 10 strokes off her uncharacteristic first-round score with a second-round 70, a round that featured superb ball striking and precision on the greens. The ever-steady Cheng posted an even-par round of 72. Lin fired at pins all day with her solid irons, posting 77. Nelsen struggled in her opening holes but regained momentum and posted a strong finish en route to a 78. Hu stayed in her IPS al l afternoon and focused on her process despite struggles with her irons, carding a 79. The Crimson matched its opening round 297 score to take an 18-stroke lead heading into the final round of play.

Knowing that a third-straight title was within its reach, Harvard maintained its process focus while playing in the most difficult conditions of the tournament. The winds picked up for the final day of play, and tucked pins on the severe greens made for a challenging test of golf. Leading the way for Harvard, Cheng posted a 75, the second-lowest score of the day for the field. Hu focused on her process all day, recovering from an early triple to finish with a 76. Lim managed the difficult conditions well, carding a 77, and Lin used her solid putting for a steady round of 78. Nelsen rebounded after a rough stretch of holes at the turn to hang on for an 82.

After the results were in, Harvard tallied a three-day total of 900, 21 shots ahead of second-place Princeton. It was a well-earned victory for the Crimson, as Harvard became the first team in Ivy League women's history to win three straight championships. Cheng, with her 217 total, blitzed the field and won the individual title by a five-shot margin. After the round, she garnered Ivy League Freshman of the Year honors, while Lim was also named First Team All-Ivy on the strength of her top-five finish.

It was an incredible week for the women's golf team, one that reaffirmed that results do follow a strong commitment to process. With the win, Harvard has earned a berth into the Central Regional of the 2014 NCAA Championship, held May 8-10 at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The team would like to thank all the spectators, past team members (Mia Kabasakalis '11 and Jane Lee '12) and families who made their way out to Baltusrol to support the team.  And finally, the Crimson thanks all of its Friends for their continued support of the program, who make this incredible journey possible!