The only thing better than one champion is two, just ask the Harvard women’s golf team.
In their second invitational of the spring season, the team picked up their second consecutive individual gold medal. Well actually, they picked up their second and third. Sophomores Anna Zhou and Michelle Xie tied each other for the Naval Academy’s Golf Invitational gold medal.
Traveling to Annapolis, Md., Saturday and Sunday for Navy’s Invitation at the school’s own golf course, the team did all but clean shop. Taking five total golfers, Harvard finished with four in the top six and the team gold to match.
“It was actually a last minute decision to come to this tournament, as our previous planned tournament was canceled due to weather issues and the course could not open,” Xie said. “We are so thankful to be able to play in Navy's spring tournament, and four of us had played in their tournament in the fall, so we had some background knowledge going into the weekend.”
Zhou took an early lead and managed to hang on throughout the weekend. Starting off just two above par at 74 shots, the sophomore was two shots ahead of the field with two competitors at 76 a piece. Just behind that group was Xie, who finished Saturday’s round at 77 shots and tied for fourth.
“Coming into this tournament, we weren't focused on scores but simply wanted to apply what we had been working on in practice to the course, and I think our team's great attitude carried us through the tournament,” Zhou said. “Individually, I owe a lot to my teammates for keeping me focused and being a great source of support throughout a rough week. The first round saw a lot of wind—taking the round one shot at a time helped me stay process-oriented and keep my game stable.”
Captain Anne Cheng was not far behind the group either. Shooting a 79 in the first round of golf, the captain finished the day at a solid seventh place. In 10th was classmate Nina Fairbairn who shot an 80 Saturday. Freshman Ji Hae Lee was four shots behind and in 27th.
Nearly everyone improved their position in the second round of play. Zhou maintained her first place lead with 78 shots. Xie capitalized on Zhou’s slower round and tied up the competition with a round at three over par, jumping three spots to first. The duo finished at a total shot count of 152.
“Anna and I played in a two-hole playoff,” Xie said. “Because we tied and were worried about making our flight, we left it at a tie.”
Fairbairn also utilized a second round, jumping up four positions with a 78 shot round, tying for sixth place. Tied for sixth right along with her was classmate Cheng who shot a 79 and jumped one spot. The pair of seniors finished the invitational at a solid 158. Ji Hae Lee hit 83 in Sunday’s round of golf to finish out the weekend with 167 shots and a 28th place finish.
“Despite sickness and injuries on the team, we did our best with what we could control and stuck to our process,” Zhou said. “We're just glad and grateful for the opportunity to be out on the course in nice weather, with two weeks until Ivies.”
The Ivy League Championships two weeks away, Harvard is situated well with respect to its fellow Ancient Eight competitors. The only Ivy League team present at the Naval Academy Invitational was Dartmouth. The Big Green also brought five golfers, placing in fourth, sixth, 23rd, 31st, and 34th.
“We have been working really hard with the facilities available to us through this long winter,” Zhou said. “Every team member continues to improve and perfect their game, and I am confident that we are in a good position as a team going into Ivies.”
Harvard has won five consecutive Ivy League titles but it’s not quite smooth sailing as Princeton posted a strong showing at last week’s Harvard Invitational. Taking first on the day, the Tigers had golfers that finished in both second and fifth.
“We are definitely trending in the right direction, and winning definitely feels great,” Xie said. “Next weekend, we will not be playing in a tournament just so that we are well-rested, practiced, and have all our respective academic lives in order before Ivies. It's going to be exciting to play in Florida again.”
—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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