Feb. 23, 2017
The No. 4 USC men’s golf team, a 2015 and 2016 NCAA Championships semifinalist coming off three straight top 2 performances this season, including two wins, continues the spring season at the annual Southwestern Invitational, Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 27-28), at the North Ranch C.C. in Westlake Village, Calif.
The Trojans, who formerly hosted the event as both the USC Collegiate Invitational and the North Ranch Intercollegiate, are the defending champions and have won the tournament six times, including also in 2013. Troy won the event last year at 26-under 838.
Senior Andrew Levitt is the defending individual winner (with an 8-under 208 last year) and is one of five Trojans who have won the title.
USC and host Pepperdine will join Augusta, College of Charleston, Fresno State, Idaho, Lipscomb, Michigan, Mississippi State, Oregon State, San Diego State, SMU, UC Davis and Washington State.
The 14 teams will play 36 holes Monday beginning with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. and a final 18 holes Tuesday with tee times off 1 and 10 starting at 7:30 a.m. Results will be available here.
The Trojans were ranked No. 2 in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll released in August and received four first-place votes, one of just two schools to receive multiple first-place selections. The other was No. 1 Texas, which defeated the Trojans in the 2106 NCAA semifinals before falling to eventual champion Oregon. Host Illinois joined the Trojans and Longhorns in the 2016 NCAA semifinals.
USC earned the high ranking thanks in part to its best depth in years. Zambri returns seniors Rico Hoey and Andrew Levitt, juniors Sean Crocker and Jonah Texeira and sophomore Justin Suh, all starters during a 2015-16 campaign in which Troy was ranked No. 1 for much of the season.
Opinions on the team were also bolstered, no doubt, by its newcomers and overall depth. Added to the mix this season is freshman Cheng Jin, from China, one of the top amateurs in the world, as well as talented freshman Kyle Suppa, both of whom will push for starting spots. Also back are seniors David Kim and Danny Ochoa, sophomore Ryan Slater (USC’s most-used reserve last year) and redshirt freshman Ing Ratanavadi.
2016-2017 EVENT-BY-EVENT STARTING LINEUPS
Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational: Hoey-Crocker-Suh-Levitt-Ochoa
OFCC/Fighting Illini Invite: Crocker-Jin-Hoey-Levitt-Texeira
Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate: Crocker-Jin-Hoey-Levitt-Suh
Cypress Point Classic: Crocker-Jin-Hoey-Levitt-Suh-Texeira
Gifford Collegiate: Crocker-Jin-Hoey-Levitt-Suh-Texeira
Amer Ari Invitational: Crocker-Hoey-Levitt-Suh-Texeira
Southwestern Invitational: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Texeira
USC Men’s Notes
* Both senior Rico Hoey and junior Sean Crocker are ranked on the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup Rankings, seventh and 19th, respectively, and both are also on the 2017 Ben Hogan Award Watch List.
* Senior Rico Hoey, ranked ninth nationally, is second on the squad in stroke average at 70.12 and has a team-best four top 10 finishes – all in a row and including two firsts -- and eight rounds in the 60s … He was credited with a win with his 36-hole 12-under 132 (65-67) at the Gifford Collegiate before he went 2-0-1 in three rounds of match play there. He tied for first at the Amer Ari Invitational at 16-under 200 (67-63-70) before falling in a playoff. Hoey’s second round 63 was USC’s best round since then-senior Sam Smith posted a 62 in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Pullman Regional.
Hoey also was fifth at the Western Refining College All-American at 5-under 208 (73-66-69) and tied for ninth at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate at 4-under 212 (76-70-66).
* Junior Sean Crocker, ranked eighth nationally, leads the team in stroke average at 70.00 and has three top 10 finishes (with five in the top 16) to go with seven rounds under 70. He was fourth at the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational at 3-under 207 (71-67-69), tied for 10th in the 36 holes of the Gifford Collegiate at 5-under 139 (68-71) and tied for seventh at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invite at 1-over 211 (69-73-69).
* Junior Jonah Texeira, ranked 45th nationally, is third on USC with a stroke average of 70.55. He has a pair of top two finishes, including a win at the Bill Cullum Invitational at 14-under 202 (66-68-68) and a second in the 36-hole stroke play portion of the Gifford Collegiate at 10-under 134 (67-67). He went 2-1 in his stroke play matches at Gifford as well.
* Senior Andrew Levitt, ranked 100th and sporting a stroke average of 71.86, has three top 21 finishes this year, highlighted by a tie for ninth at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate with a 4-under 212 (74-66-72). He tied for 18th at the Gifford Collegiate at 1-under 143 and tied for 21st at 1-over 211 (72-71-71). He has four rounds in the 60s.
* Sophomore Justin Suh, in his second year as a starter and ranked 67th, is fourth on the squad with a 71.36 stroke average with a pair of top 10 finishes, including a second at the Western Refining College All-American at 9-under 204 (69-68-67). He also tied for 10th at the Gifford Collegiate at 5-under 139 (71-68).
* Freshman Cheng Jin has seen immediate action this year, playing in five events, topped by a tie for 18th at the Gifford Collegiate at 1-under 143 (75-68). He won once and tied twice in match play at the Gifford Collegiate.
* Senior Danny Ochoa has played in two events and has a stroke average of 73.50, tying for 15th at the Bill Cullum Invitational at 3-under 213 (72-70-71). Freshman Kyle Suppa has played twice and turned in a top 20 showing at the Amer Ari Invitational, where he finished 19th at 7-under 209 (64-69-76). His opening round was USC’s best since 2013. Also, at the Bill Cullum, he tied for 32nd at 1-over 217 (74-70-73). Senior David Kim also played at the Bill Cullum, taking 85th. Sophomore Ryan Slater and redshirt freshman Ing Ratanavadi have yet to see action this season.
USC golfers had a successful summer, highlighted by a variety of top finishes.
Hoey, who finished second at the 2016 NCAAs at 3-under 277 en route to PING All-American second team honors, won the 117th SCGA Amateur title in July. Crocker, an All-Pac-12 second teamer, won the Monroe Invitational Championship, posting a four-stroke victory.
Suh, a PING All-American honorable mention pick last season, played as an amateur in the U.S. Open this summer while Jin played in The Master’s in May and won the Players Amateur title in July to earn an exemption into the PGA’s RBC Heritage next spring.
Seven Trojans, including five on this year’s team, played in the 2016 U.S. Amateur, where Texeira carried USC’s flag all the way to the semifinals before bowing out. Texeira’s trip to the U.S. Amateur semifinals repeated Crocker’s run in 2015.
2016-17 MEN’S EVENT RECAPS
OFCC/Fighting Illini Invite
Junior Sean Crocker fired a 1-under 69 to secure a top 10 finish to lead the No. 2 USC men’s golf team, which tied for eighth at the the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invite at the Olympia Fields C.C. North Course in Chicago. The Trojans turned in a combined 10-over final round, finishing at 34-over 874 (296-288-290). Host Illinois completed its wire-to-wire win at 5-over 845 (274-280-291) while Oklahoma State finished second at 18-over 858 (287-290-281). Crocker closed with a strong back 9 to tie for seventh at 1-over 211 (69-73-69) and claim a top 10 finish, birdieing 15, 16 and 18 over his final four holes. Senior Rico Hoey tied for 29th at 9-over (76-71-72), sinking four birdies today during his 2-over round. Junior Jonah Texeira tied for 40th at 12-over 222 (75-73-74), freshman Cheng Jin tied for 42nd at 13-over 223 (76-71-73) and senior Andrew Levitt tied for 54th at 17-over 227 (78-74-75).
OFCC/Fighting Illini Invite
Junior Sean Crocker notched his second top 10 in as many events to lead the No. 13 USC men’s golf team on the final day of the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational at the Colonial C.C. in Fort Worth, Texas, on Oct. 4. USC opened the day sixth and finished tied for sixth at 20-over 860 (283-283-294). Vanderbilt won the event at 1-under 839 (275-276-288), one better than Florida, the only two teams even or better. Georgia was third at 11-over 851. Crocker took fourth at 3-under 207 (71-67-69), five back of first, after securing his fourth round in the 60s in six rounds this season. The junior opened with his second birdie on 1 of the event (to go with a second-round eagle) and also birdied 2. After bogeys on 9 and 10, he birdied 14 and held on with pars rest of the way for the 1-under final round. Senior Andrew Levitt tied for 21st at 4-over 214 (72-71-71). He caught fire on the front and was 4-under through 8. He was still 4-under through 12 before encountering some troubles over the final few holes.
BILL CULLUM INVITATIONAL
Sophomore Jonah Texeira fired a tournament record 54-hole 14-under 202 (66-68-68) to win the Bill Cullum Invitational while leading four Trojans who played individually in the Monday and Tuesday event at the Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, Calif. Texeira turned in his first collegiate win thanks to a fruitful three rounds that saw him sink 18 birdies and an eagle against just six bogeys. He had eight birdies in Monday’s first round, four and an eagle in the late afternoon second round and came back today with six more birdies. He held off Southern Utah’s Fidel Concepcion, who was second at 12-under 204 (68-67-79). USC senior Danny Ochoa turned in his best effort as a Trojan, tying for 15th at 3-under 213 (72-70-71). He had eight birdies during the event, including four today. Trojan freshman Kyle Suppa, in his USC debut, tied for 32nd at 1-over 217 (74-70-73). Senior David Kim took 85th at 19-over 235 (85-77-73).
GOLF CLUB OF GEORGIA COLLEGIATE
A day after Andrew Levitt’s 66, fellow senior Rico Hoey turned in his own 6-under round while junior Sean Crocker came in with a 69 as the Trojans made a run at its first title this season before finishing a stroke out on the final day of the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate in Alpharetta, Ga., on Oct. 23. USC responded to its 11-over first round with back-to-back 9-under efforts to finish with a 54-hole 7-under 857 (299-279-279), one back of co-winners Virginia and Texas. USC, which briefly moved into first midway through the back 9, tied for third with Stanford while Texas A&M was fifth at 6-under and second-round leader Oklahoma finished sixth at 5-under. The finish is USC’s first in the top 3 after a tie for eighth to open the season at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invite and a tie for sixth at the Nike Golf Collegiate. Hoey (76-60-66) and Levitt (74-66-72) finished tied for ninth at 4-under 212, each producing their first top 10 finishes of the season. Hoey was on fire for most of the round, turning at 3-under and getting to 7-under after three straight birdies between 13 and 15. Only a bogey on 17 slowed his round. Levitt got to 6-under overall after an eagle on 9 before bogeys on 14 and 18 left him tied with Hoey.
CYPRESS POINT CLASSIC
Senior Andrew Levitt and freshman Cheng Jin each won final-round dual matches by 4-0 scores while senior Rico Hoey and juniors Sean Crocker and Jonah Texeira each won 3.5-0.5 to lead the No. 12 USC men’s golf team to a 19.5-4.5 win over Georgia Tech in the championship match of Stanford’s Cypress Point Classic on Nov. 1 in Pebble Beach, Calif. The Trojans defeated Alabama, 9.5-2-5, in the opening Four Ball match before edging UCLA on a tiebreaker in the semifinal Foursome match. That set up the final against the Yellow Jackets, which turned out to be a one-sided affair as USC notched its first win of the season. Levitt, who went second today, downed Georgia Tech’s Vince Whaley 4-0 while Jin, in the five spot, defeated Tyler Strafaci by the same score. Texeira, who turned 21 today, started third and defeated Tyler Joiner, 3.5-0.5, while fellow junior Crocker took care of Chris Petefish, 3-5-0.5 as well, in the fourth spot of the lineup. Hoey finished the match with another 3.5-0.5 win over Luke Schniederjans. Sophomore Justin Suh, who started the match today for USC, was the only Trojan who didn’t win his match, but he did post a point in his 3-1 loss.
The No. 6 USC men's golf team defeated No. 8 Stanford in the match play final of the Gifford Collegiate on Nov. 9, winning the contest on tiebreakers to capture its second title in a row at the Silverado Resort and Spa's North Course in Napa, Calif. USC, which dominated 36 holes of stroke play Monday to earn the top seed before defeating Wisconsin, 5-0-1, and Northwestern, 4-2, on Tuesday to advance to the final, finished the title match with Stanford squared at 2-2-2. But it was the combined winning holes of senior Andrew Levitt's 4&3 victory and Justin Suh's 3&2 win that was good for a 7&6 tiebreak edge, giving USC its second straight team win after taking the Cypress Point Classic last week. Senior Rico Hoey secured the victory with a tie as he and Stanford's Franklin Huang spent most of their match squared. With the overall match tied at 2-2-1, Hoey won 17 to go 1up, guaranteeing a tie at worst, which would give USC the tiebreak win. Huang won 18 to even the match, putting the tiebreak rule in motion.
AMER ARI INVITATIONAL
Trojan senior standout Rico Hoey tied for first at 16-under 200 (67-63-70) at the Amer Ari Invitational before falling to Texas Tech's Fredrik Nilehn in a playoff, while USC took second place overall. USC's second place finish breaks their two-tournament win streak. Crocker finished tied for 13th in the tournament at 8-under 208 (68-70-70) along with sophomore Justin Suh (69-67-72) Freshman Kyle Suppa was 19th at 7-under 209 (64-69-76). Suppa’s first round was USC’s best since Sam Smith posted a 64 in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Regional and was bettered by Hoey’s second round, which was Troy’s best since Smith opened that same regional with a 62.