Hooton finished second to help Harvard to its first win of the year (Gregory Carroccio).
PRINCETON, N.J. – The Harvard women's golf team cut 20 strokes off its first-round score to overcame a 12-stroke deficit and earn its first tournament victory of the season on Sunday at the Princeton Invitational.
Harvard found itself tied for fourth place after shooting plus-30 (318) on Saturday, 12 strokes behind host Princeton (306), six strokes behind Columbia (312) and three strokes behind Rutgers (315). Despite the rough start, the Crimson was able to refocus on Sunday and carded the lowest round of the weekend at 298 (+10) to steal the victory with a final score at plus-40 (616).
Harvard just edged out Princeton (+41, 617) by one stroke, while Columbia (+47, 623), Rutgers (+57, 633) and Yale (+59, 635) rounded out the top five.
The win was the first of the year for the Crimson and its fourth at the Princeton Invitational since 2008.
Courtney Hooton led the way for Harvard and finished the individual competition in second place at plus-8 (152), just three strokes behind Georgetown's Jacquelyn Eleey (+5, 149) for the title. Hooton carded a 77 (+5) on Saturday, and followed it with a 75 (+3) on Sunday.
Michelle Xie (+10, 154), Christine Lin (+11, 155) and Anne Cheng (+11, 155) were also strong for the Crimson, with Xie placing fifth while Lin and Cheng tied for eighth. Xie followed up a difficult 81 (+9) on Saturday with a 73 (+1) on Sunday, the team's lowest round of the weekend. Lin was steady with scores of 79 (+7) and 76 (+4). Like Xie, Cheng was forced to rebound from an opening round 81 (+9) and responded with a 74 (+2).
Anna Zhou (+18, 162) was also in action for the Crimson, tying for 27th place.
Played at the Springdale Golf Club, The Princeton Invitational covered 6,100 yards with a par of 72.
Harvard returns to action this weekend at the Yale Invitational being held at The Course at Yale Oct. 9-11.
by Christine Lin '16
"Not snow, no, nor rain, nor heat, nor night keeps them from accomplishing their appointed courses with all speed." – Herodotus
Caught in the middle of 20 mph winds on the 16th tee, Anne Cheng '17, lips pursed, stared down the narrow strip of fairway edged by fairway bunkers. Unwavering, she struck her drive with a slight draw and saw her ball land precisely in the strip. Cheng's spirited attitude followed her throughout the first day as she warmly waved to Anna Zhou '19 who was a hole ahead of her.
The first round on Saturday, October 3, at Princeton's Springdale Golf Club was originally set for 36 holes followed by 18 holes on Sunday. However, due to the heavy rains on Friday, the tournament was shortened to 18 holes for both Saturday and Sunday. Despite the variable course conditions, Zhou also carried an optimistic outlook throughout the first round in just her second collegiate golf tournament. "What I love about playing in tournaments is having the chance to compete on beautiful golf courses and surround myself with wonderful people. I had the honor of having amazing playing partners, and I treasure every moment with my teammates." Post-round, Zhou exuded her enthusiasm by cheering on her freshman counterpart, Michelle Xie '19, as Xie walked up the 18th fairway. Xie found her rhythm in her ending holes after getting a feel of the course, characterized by slick greens and demanding tee shots.
Seniors Courtney Hooton and Christine Lin similarly held their heads high during the cool, windy conditions. Hooton walked tee to green with great confidence as she fully committed to her shot inputs and preparation process. Lin found the tough conditions thrilling. "I was comfortable with myself and with the various situations I was in today. I saw opportunities in the challenge of dealing with external factors, and I took advantage of them."
Heading into Sunday's second round, the women's team, trailing the first-round leader Princeton by 12 shots, continued to demonstrate positive frame of minds. Strawberry-sweet smiles and team handshakes were exchanged before the second round tee-off. Zhou, drawing on the strength of the team's dynamic energy, submitted herself to the present moment and persisted through another windy day. Xie's commitment to the process allowed her to remain calm and steady. "I found that composure and confidence are key, especially in these rainy and muddy conditions. I was happy in the way that I focused on one shot at a time."
Lin, playing fearlessly, found synchronization of her mind and body as she took on the course and executed varying shot shapes and trajectories in the swirling winds. Cheng, taking from her learning experiences the day before, planned her shots more strategically. Additionally, her playing partner was a girl with whom she golfed as a youngster. "Playing with her bought back many happy memories and instinctively made me internally more competitive and focused than usual." Hooton, the last player to come in on the 9th hole, the final hole for Harvard women's golf, trusted her sensory inputs in all aspects of her game and showed no signs of doubt when faced with slippery putts.
Walking off the 9th hole, the women's team was greeted by a sliver of sun that peeked through the clouds, the first sign of golden rays in the past two days at the Princeton Invitational. In the end, the team's collected and confident demeanor on and off the course allowed it to claim a one-stroke victory over Princeton. "I am so proud of the team for powering through adverse weather conditions. It was motivating to see team members carry themselves positively on the course and support each other until the very end," Hooton beamed.
The rain, wind, and cold did not deter members of the Harvard women's golf team from trusting their games, themselves, and each other. Instead, the conditions inspired mental strength, positive self-talk, and strong team unity among all team members, propelling the women to accomplish their goals with all speed.