When it rains, it pours.
In the final action of the season for both of Penn’s golf teams, a bottom half finish was unavoidable for both squads.
Faced with the task of defending their 2015 Ivy crown, the men’s team found themselves in a similar situation to last year’s tournament. But after a slow start left the Quakers in seventh after the first day, the team was unable to replicate its epic seventh-to-first comeback from last year and finished the tournament in its original position.
“Golf is a cyclical game,” men's coach Bob Heintz said. “You try to have everyone peak at the same time, and sometimes it doesn’t happen.”
Despite shaving multiple strokes off their opening round score in subsequent rounds, the slow start put the Quakers in an early hole they had trouble climbing out of. The eventual champions Harvard came out fast and never looked back en route to their four-stroke victory over second-place Princeton.
Leading the way for the Red and Blue this weekend was junior Matt Kern, who put up the lowest score on the weekend in his first tournament action of the spring semester.
In his final tournament as a member of Penn’s golf team, senior Patrick O’Leary struggled through injuries that hindered his performance. This weekend was a tough way to cap an otherwise successful career for the team’s only senior.
“O’Leary was a little banged up with his shoulder still bothering him,” Heintz said. “He didn’t play up to his standards and no one else played sharp enough to help him out.”
From the freshman struggling to find consistency early in his college career, to a captain leading the defending Ancient Eight champions this year, O’Leary made considerable strides in his four years in Philadelphia.
With the Ivy League trophy set to reside in Cambridge, Mass., for the next year, the Quakers will have to go back to the drawing board to figure out a way to usurp the Crimson. While a daunting task on the surface, the team remains optimistic about its chances to contend in future years.
“We have to hope our incoming freshman [Eric Ganshaw] comes ready to play. We have a core group of guys that should develop over the summer,” Heintz added. “I think we should be ready to make a run again next year.”
For the women’s team, the final tournament of the season saw the team once again finish in the bottom half of the standings. After finishing the first round in sixth place, the Quakers wouldn’t rise any higher in the standings before the weekend was over.
Penn’s 331 in the first round put the team behind the 8-ball early as tournament leaders Harvard blitzed out to an opening-round 302. Despite improving their score in each successive round, it was not enough to catch either the eventual champion Crimson or Brown, which finished one spot ahead of the Red and Blue in sixth.
“The biggest thing was that we weren’t sharp with our game,” women's coach Mark Anderson said. “The course would punish you if you weren’t hitting the ball right.”
Junior Isabella Rahm led the way for her squad, nearly playing her way into the All-Ivy team. With an average score of 80 over the three rounds, Rahm finished her final tournament of the season tied for 14th in the field of 35 golfers.
“[Rahm] has a great short game and the most difficult part of the course was the green,” Anderson added. “She played better than anyone and did a great job adjusting throughout the weekend.”
Unfortunately for the junior, the rest of her team wasn’t able to match her level of production, leading to the doldrums the Quakers faced at the Stanwich Club.
Now that both Ivy golf titles belong to Harvard, both teams will have the similar objective of finding a way to take down the Crimson. The women’s team especially will spend its summer preparing a plan to get into the top half of the Ivy League next season.
With the way Harvard cruised to the title this season, Penn will need more than just one player to step up next season if it hopes to contend with the conference stalwarts.
“The team we brought to the Ivies was one of the best teams we’ve had in the past three or four years,” Anderson added. “When we’re playing well we can take on any team. It’s just hard to end on this note.”
It’ll be a long wait before both of the Red and Blue’s golf teams get to play in their next 54-hole tournament. Hopefully, the sting of defeat helps parlay the teams to new heights in future seasons.
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