For the fifth season in a row, the Harvard women’s golf team took the course in the NCAA regional round. This time around, the Crimson took a trip to The University Club in Baton Rouge, La. to join a field of 18 competitors. After three rounds of play, the women walked away in a tie for ninth.
The top six teams from each region earn a trip to the NCAA Championship tournament in Eugene, Ore., which will be held May 20-25. For the Baton Rouge region those six were No. 5 Florida, No. 24 South Carolina, No. 13 Washington, No. 4 Duke, No. 20 Oregon, and No. 37 Brigham Young.
“It was a good week for sure,” Harvard coach Kevin Rhoads said. “I knew the team was capable of good things. I always think our ranking is going to be lower than where our actual level of play is at.”
Harvard’s round one 308 put the team in 12th place after the first day of competition. The Crimson followed this up with its best round of the tournament, firing a 295 on Friday, but the team was unable to pick up any ground due to the performances of other teams.
On Saturday, Harvard closed out with a 301, cementing a final tally of 904.
The top four teams shattered the old 54-hole record for lowest score since the course was renovated in 2010. The previous record was set by Tennessee at 880 during the LSU Golf Classic in 2012.
The Crimson played best on par four holes, averaging 4.25 strokes per hole, good enough for seventh among the field. Harvard also had the fifth most even-par scores on holes with 166, just one behind the Blue Devils.
Harvard came into play seeded 15th of the 18 squads. The ninth place finish was the largest improvement over initial seeding for any school in the tournament.
“I really think that if things fall right in a year, we could potentially make it to Nationals,” Rhoads said. “If we have a team of equal strength, committed players who know what it takes to win, and we just play a tiny bit better I do think the team is capable of doing it.”
The University Club, measuring at 6,285 yards, played at a par 72 for the event. The regional round featured 54 holes of play, 18 each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Rounding out the top ten were seventh place finisher No. 33 Houston, eighth place No. 10 Arizona State, and No. 28 East Carolina, which tied with Harvard at ninth.
On the individual side, the top three players who are not on teams already qualifying for Nationals advance to that tournament as individuals.
Crimson freshman Anna Zhou, finishing tied for 12th at even par and was just one stroke behind that threshold. LSU’s Elise Bradley, Arizona State’s No. 15 Linnea Storm, and Houston’s Leonie Harm will be the trio heading to Eugene.
“We don’t really get intimidated going up against top ranked teams in these tournaments,” Zhou said. “We’ve seen a lot of those players in junior golf so it’s good to see them again, and it’s pretty easy for us to just go about our business.”
Fellow freshman Michelle Xie’s round three 74 moved her 12 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for 51st that included Arizona State’s No. 3 Monica Vaughn.
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