May 12, 2017
The No. 1 USC men's golf team, a 2015 and 2016 NCAA Championships semifinalist with four wins this year, will begins its quest for the program’s first national title as the top seed of the NCAA's Sammamish, Wash., Regional, one of six NCAA Regionals that will be conducted Monday through Wednesday (May 15-17).
Thirteen teams and 10 individuals not on those teams will compete at each of three regionals while the other three regionals will have 14 teams and five individuals not on those teams. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each regional will advance to the finals, May 26-31 at Rich Harvest G.C. in Sugar Grove, Ill.
USC’s top seed is its second in a row, third in the past six years and its fifth since 2008. The Trojans, under 11th-year head coach Chris Zambri, have won regional titles in 2008 and 2012, but just need to finish in the top 5 to the NCAA Championships in Illinois. The Trojans are looking to advance to their 11th consecutive NCAA final field. USC and Texas own the nation's longest active streak of NCAA final appearances at 10 and USC, Texas and Illinois are the only schools to advance out of NCAA regional play each season since it was split into six sections in 2009.
Joining the Trojans in Washington will be No. 2 seed Kent State, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Florida State, No. 5 host Washington, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 San Diego State, No. 8 Texas-El Paso, No. 9 Penn State, No. 10 Michigan, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 12 Seattle, No. 13 Marquette and No. 14 Bryant. The five individuals competing in the regional are Hidetoshi Yoshihara (UCLA), Tim Widing (San Francisco), Ryan Wallen (Wyoming), Cole Madey (UCLA), Michael Colgate (Nebraska).
Play begins at 8 a.m. Monday and Tuesday and at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Regional Host Site
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The Pac-12 sent six teams into the NCAA Regionals while UCLA and California qualified individuals. The complete list of teams competing at the NCAA Regionals is 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
Southern Highlands Collegiate: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Levitt
The Goodwin: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Levitt
The Western Intercollegiate: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Levitt-Texeira
Pac-12 Championships: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh-Levitt-Texeira
THREE TROJANS MAKE ALL-PAC-12 FIRST TEAM
* Senior Rico Hoey became USC’s second four-time All-Pac-12 first teamer since awards started in 1979 while junior Sean Crocker and sophomore Justin Suh also earned first team notice as the conference announced its season honors on Friday (May 5). In addition, junior Jonah Texeira and freshman Cheng Jin earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors while Jin was also named to the All-Freshman team. Hoey joined Trojan great and All-American Sam Randolph as the only Trojans to claim first-team status four straight years. Randolph did it between 1983-86. Crocker earned his second All-Pac-12 first team honor and first since his freshman year while Suh was a Pac-12 All-Freshman team selection last year.
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. 11 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings with Hoey 12th.
* 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.
- Sean Crocker is ranked 11th by Golfweek and 8th by Golfstat.
- Rico Hoey is ranked 15th by Golfweek and 21st by Golfstat.
- Justin Suh is ranked 32nd by Golfweek and 41st by Golfstat.
- Jonah Texeira is ranked 75th by Golfweek and 131st by Golfstat.
- Cheng Jin is ranked 109th by Golfweek and 132nd by Golfstat.
- Andrew Levitt is ranked 184th by Golfweek and 180th by Golfstat.
* Senior Rico Hoey leads USC with two wins and 13 rounds in the 60s and is second on the squad in stroke average (70.88) and tied for first with six top 10 finishes … 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 second at the snowy Pac-12 Championships at 1-under 209 (72-68-69), 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).
* Junior Sean Crocker leads USC in stroke average (70.76), top 10 finishes (tied, six, with nine finishes in the top 16), and is second in rounds in the 60s (13) … He had an impressive streak of tournaments under par recently snapped at eight at the Pac-12 Championships, 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).
* Sophomore Justin Suh, in his second year as a starter, is third on the squad with a 71.21 stroke average with three top 3 finishes, five top 10s and seven 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 tied for third at the Southern Highlands Collegiate at 5-under 211 (70-68-73). Suh tied for ninth at the Pac-12 Championships at 5-over 215 (72-78-65) thanks in part to his career best final round. 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 tied for second on the team with 11 rounds under 70.
* Junior Jonah Texeira is fourth on USC with a stroke average of 71.61. 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.
* Freshman Cheng Jin has seen immediate action this year, playing in 10 events, and is fifth on the squad with a stroke average of 72.46. 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.
* Senior Andrew Levitt sports a stroke average of 72.92 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.
* 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.
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.