Both women's and men's golf finished sixth at the Ivy League Championships, concluding their first full seasons on return from pandemic cancellations with much left to desire.
The women’s team took on the par-72 Ridge at Back Brook and the men’s team the par-71 Century Country Club. The Quakers lost out to Princeton and Yale, who took home the 2022 Ivy League Golf Championships.
While the results may not have been up to the Quakers' own standards, the competition was a valuable last hurrah for Penn’s seniors, with each member of Penn golf playing for one another.
“I certainly had [the senior’s last tournament] in mind, to try my best and to make this the best tournament I could for them,” men’s golf junior Harrison Ornstein said.
Ornstein certainly lived up to his own expectations. While the men’s team as a whole placed sixth with a score of 60-over-par 912 for the weekend, Ornstein shot a respectable 225, ending the tournament tied for 12th.
His performance wasn’t a fluke, either. Ornstein had been preparing a handful of adjustments for the weekend.
“I was working on a few swinging changes, been trying to shallow out my swing a little bit,” he said. “I was also working on trying to hit a lower shot, anticipating that there’d be some wind at the tournament.”
Ornstein also played back and forth with different putting grips, trying to figure out what would work best for him.
But it wasn’t just Ornstein — every single member of Penn men’s golf prepared for a weekend that they’d have to scrape and claw to earn a solid finish.
“We knew going into it that it was going to be tough conditions overall,” senior captain Mark Haghani said. “When it gets tough, you need to grind out holes and cut your losses on big numbers — you need to lower your expectations, but also just stay with it.”
It’s no understatement to say that there were many moving parts that had to be perfected through the weekend.
“For the most part, especially with the wind, I drove the ball really well and figured out how to hit my driver a little bit lower,” Ornstein said. “So I think the work I had put in, leading up to the tournament, definitely helped.”
Freshman John Richardson and Haghani joined Ornstein as Penn’s top three scorers. Having shot the lowest individual round out of 35 golfers on both Saturday and Sunday, Haghani finished with the team low at 220 over the weekend.
Richardson, on the other hand, closed the weekend with a score of 227, leaving him tied for 16th. Seniors Jason Langer and Carter Prince closed out their last tournament with scores of 241 and 246, respectively.
“It was definitely the most involved tournament this season because it has this different air about it,” Ornstein said.
Coincidentally finishing the weekend in sixth as well, the women’s golf team gave it their all with the hand that they were dealt.
During Friday’s morning warm-up on the driving range, junior Susan Xiao’s wrist gave out — with a few weeks' of built-up wrist pain, finally, the discomfort became overwhelming.
Fortunately, the team was ready, as its mental preparation beforehand gave it an edge going into the Ivy League Championship.
“I like the tournament, but I don't think getting all nervous over something [like the Ivy Championships] would be beneficial to anybody,” freshman Natalie Cao said. “So with a mindset of, ‘Let’s just have fun and do the best we can,’ [we were prepared] to get the best out of it.”
Senior Leila Dizon, too, was focused on mentally preparing herself and the team for the task at hand. For her, approaching the weekend was all about remaining consistent.
“We were just trying to live up to the expectation of having won the past weekend [at the Hartford Invitational], and just trying to enjoy the moment,” Dizon said.
Junior Selina Li stepped in well for the injured Xiao for Friday and Saturday’s tournament action, scoring 166 through two days. On the final day, Xiao finally made her return, finishing with 83 on the par-72 course.
Cao led Penn’s low score individually on both Friday and Sunday, ending the weekend with 10-over-par 226. Dizon — who finished with the low score on Friday along with Cao — scored 228 for the tournament. Freshman Eunice Kim and senior Mary Shin also scored for Penn, closing with 233 and 235, respectively.
“There were a lot of emotions when I hit my last putt,” Dizon said. “Everyone was watching me and cheering me on; there was a lot of screams out on the 18th hole, and it was definitely bittersweet.”
Emotions ran high for both teams as seniors took their last swings as Quakers. But there is a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
“John [Richardson] and Harrison [Ornstein] had their best college finishes,” Haghani said. “Going forward, I feel great with these with these guys; we’ve got a really strong core. It’s looking good for the team.”