No. 1 USC Eyes Pac-12 Championships In Boulder, Colo.

    Senior Andrew Levitt
    April 25, 2017

    The No. 1 USC men’s golf team, a 2015 and 2016 NCAA Championships semifinalist coming off seven straight top 2 performances this season, including four wins, will look for its 20th conference title and first since 2011 at the Colorado-hosted 2017 Pac-12 Championships, Friday through Sunday, at the Boulder (Colo.) C.C.

    A 36-hole first day begins Friday at 6:30 a.m. (PT). USC is paired with Arizona and California and will begin off the 10th tee. Tee times Saturday begin at 9 a.m. (PT) while Sunday’s final round starts at 7 a.m. PT. The Pac-12 Championships are a six play, count five format. Rain and snow are in the forecast for much of Friday and Saturday as well as low temperatures throughout the weekend.

    PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS INFO
    Pac-12 Championships site / Live Results / Live Streaming for Thursday and Friday / Pac-12 Networks will air delayed coverage of the championship on May 7 at 11 a.m.


    USC'S HISTORY AT THE PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS
    The Trojans have won conference-best 19 Pac-12 titles, including its most recent in 2011, a playoff win, and a dominating 36-stroke win in 2007. USC came close in 2008 to back-to-back wins (like they did in 2001 and 2002), but fell in a playoff to ASU ... USC finished third in 2012, its best finish since the 2011 title. Troy claimed the crown 15 times between 1962 and 1986 ... USC boasts 21 individual champions, most recently Martin Trainer in 2011, who outlasted Oregon State's Alex Moore during a seven-hole playoff for the win. Jamie Lovemark won in 2007, which ended a drought that dated back to Sam Randolph's tie for first in 1983 ... USC has also earned eight Pac-10 Golfer of the Year honors, including its most recent, Matt Giles in 2009, as well as Lovemark's 2007 distinction and Kevin Stadler's in 2002 ... Sherman Finger’s three wins in 1964-65-66 are tied for the Pac-12’s most individual conference titles (with ASU’s Paul Casey in 1998-99-2000) … USC finished fifth at the 2016 Pac-12s at 28-over 1431 (356-343-363-381). Rico Hoey led Troy with an 11th-place finish at even 284 (70-70-72-72), his best overall Pac-12 finish and second in the top 17. Crocker led USC at the 2016 Pac-12s with a tie for sixth at even 280 (72-68-72-68). Jonah Texeira’s best Pac-12 result was as a freshman, tying for 23rd. Justin Suh (T-19) and Andrew Levitt (T-42) made their first Pac-12 appearances last year.

     

     


    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
    Southern Highlands Collegiate: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Levitt
    The Goodwin: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Levitt
    The Western Intercollegiate: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Levitt-Texeira

    USC Men’s Notes

    * USC’s four wins are its most since the 2007-08 season when USC finished first five times, though one ended in a playoff loss at the 2008 Pac-10 Championships.

    * Junior Sean Crocker, who currently leads the No. 1 Trojans this year in stroke average, has been selected to the United States Arnold Palmer Cup. Crocker, who will make his first Arnold Palmer Cup appearance, was selected as a committee selection for the 10-man American team that will take on a 10-man European squad at the annual Ryder Cup-style competition to be played June 9-11 at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Both he and senior Rico Hoey and are also on the 2017 Ben Hogan Award Watch List.

    * Hoey has earned PGA Tour Canada exempt status thanks to his tie for sixth at the USA West #1 Q School that finished March 17.

    * Crocker spent USC’s spring break at the Italian International Amateur in Acaya, Italy, where he posted a wire-to-wire win. He won at 7-under 277 (68-69-70-70) with a five-shot win.

    * Crocker is ranked No. 8 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings with Hoey 17th.

    * Freshman Cheng Jin played in the RBC Heritage as an amateur earlier in April (he did not make the cut). He earned the exemption after winning the 2016 Players Amateur.

    * Former Trojan Stewart Hagestad made a smashing Masters debut in April, making the cut and finishing as Low Amateur to win the Silver Cup. He earned the berth after winning the 2016 U.S. Mid-Am after coming from four holes down with five to go, winning in a playoff. He made five birdies over the final six holes.

    Rankings
    - Sean Crocker is ranked 4th by Golfweek and 2nd by Golfstat.
    - Rico Hoey is ranked 20th by Golfweek and 25th by Golfstat.
    - Justin Suh is ranked 30th by Golfweek and 39th by Golfstat.
    - Jonah Texeira is ranked 58th by Golfweek and 115th by Golfstat.
    - Cheng Jin is ranked 107th by Golfweek and 131st by Golfstat.
    - Andrew Levitt is ranked 135th by Golfweek and 158th by Golfstat.


    Rico Hoey
    * Senior Rico Hoey leads USC with two wins, is tied for the lead with 11 rounds in the 60s and is second on the squad in stroke average (71.00) and top 10 finishes (five) … Hoey, USC’s low scorer in four straight tournaments at one point this year, 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. He tied for fifth at the Southwestern Invitational at 6-under 210 (69-68-73), 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).

    Sean Crocker
    * Junior Sean Crocker leads USC in stroke average (70.15), top 10 finishes (six, with nine finishes in the top 16), and is tied for first in rounds in the 60s (11) … He has been under par in an impressive eight consecutive tournaments USC’s longest such streak in over a decade and reminiscent of his streak of seven straight events as a freshman of par or better (something Rico Hoey did last year as well) … He finished a season-best tied for second at the Western Intercollegiate at 1-under 209 (72-70-67). He was fourth at the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational at 3-under 207 (71-67-69), tied for fifth at The Goodwin at 2-under 208 (72-67-70), was seventh at the Southwestern Invitational at 4-under 212 (73-69-70), 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).

    Jonah Texeira
    * Junior Jonah Texeira is fourth on USC with a stroke average of 71.30. 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 tied for eighth at the Western Intercollegiate at 2-over 212 (68-73-71) for his third top 10 this year. He went 2-1 in his stroke play matches at Gifford as well. He has seven rounds in the 60s this year.

    Justin Suh
    * Sophomore Justin Suh, in his second year as a starter, is third on the squad with a 71.19 stroke average with three top 3 finishes, four top 10s and six in the top 13, including his first collegiate title with a 5-under 205 (68-67-70) to capture the Western Intercollegiate. He was also second at the Western Refining College All-American at 9-under 204 (69-68-67) and a tie for third at the Southern Highlands Collegiate at 5-under 211 (70-68-73). He also tied for 10th at the Gifford Collegiate at 5-under 139 (71-68) and tied for 11th at The Goodwin at 3-over 213 (70-70-73). He is third on the team with 10 rounds under 70.

    Andrew Levitt
    * Senior Andrew Levitt sports a stroke average of 72.65 and has four 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) at the Nike Golf Collegiate as well as at the Western Intercollegiate with a 5-over 215 (73-67-75). He has five rounds in the 60s.

    Cheng Jin
    * Freshman Cheng Jin has seen immediate action this year, playing in nine events, and is fifth on the squad with a stroke average of 72.39. His efforts have been topped by a tie for third at the Southern Highlands Collegiate at 5-under 211 (69-73-69) and an 11th at the Southwestern Invitational at 1-under 215 (73-72-70). He tied 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.

    RESERVES
    * Senior Danny Ochoa has played in three events and has a stroke average of 74.44, tying for 15th at the Bill Cullum Invitational at 3-under 213 (72-70-71). Freshman Kyle Suppa has played three times 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 has played twice and posted a USC career best tie for 28th at the Southwestern Invitational at 6-over 222 (80-72-70). Freshman Ing Ratanavadi made his Trojan debut at the Southwestern Invitational, finishing 80th, while sophomore Ryan Slater has yet to play.

    SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS
    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.