No. 23 USC In Kansas For NCAA Championships

    Senior Jeffrey Kang

    May 21, 2014

    The No. 23 USC men's golf team will make its eighth straight national final appearance in search of its first NCAA crown at the 2014 NCAA Championships, Friday through Wednesday (May 23-28) at the Prairie Dunes C.C. in Hutchinson, Kan.

    Thirty teams and six individual entries will tee off Friday beginning at 5 a.m. PT. The Trojans will begin play at 5:20 a.m. with UCLA and Auburn. USC will join the Bruins and Tigers on Saturday as well with a 10:40 a.m. CT start. The Trojans are the 20th overall seed in the 30-team field while UCLA is No. 19 and Auburn No. 21.

    The top eight teams after 54 holes will advance to a three-round match play tournament for the NCAA title with quarterfinals and semifinals on May 27 and the final on May 28. The top 40 individuals and ties after 54 holes will compete in the fourth and final stroke-play round on May 26 to determine the individual national champion.

    * Click here for host Wichita State's NCAA Championships home page, which includes links to schedules and live scoring.
    * Click here for the NCAA's Championship site.
    * Golf Channel will air coverage of Monday's final individual round as well as coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday of the match play tournament. Their live coverage is scheduled to run from 2-5 p.m. PT.

    USC has been led this year by Rico Hoey, the 2014 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year who boasts a team-best 71.36 stroke average and 14 rounds in the 60s to go with a team-high eight top 7 finishes. Junior Anthony Paolucci, a 2014 All-Pac-12 second teamer, is second in stroke average (71.88) and rounds in the 60s (10) and has six top 10 finishes. Both have won one event apiece this season.



    Senior Jeffrey Kang joins Paolucci as the only other returning player from last year's squad that played in the NCAAs. Hoey is one of three newcomers in the Trojan starting lineup. Junior Paul Smith, the younger brother of the recently graduated All-American Sam Smith, and junior transfer Eric Sugimoto, join Hoey as first-year NCAA participants.

    USC is making its 55th team trip to the NCAA final (third most behind Oklahoma State's 67 and Texas' 60, including this season) and its eighth trip in a row under eighth-year head coach Chris Zambri. USC is tied for second with Texas for the longest active streak at eight. UCLA owns the longest streak at 11 ... USC is one of only six schools that have advanced out of NCAA regional play each season since it was split into six sections in 2009 with only five teams advancing out of each one ... That was the lone year USC advanced out of the 54-hole stroke play portion of the championships and into the eight-team match-play playoff when the Trojans rallied from a rough start to tie for third (led by Tom Glissmeyer, who also tied for third). The Trojans then fell to Michigan in the quarterfinals ... The Trojans are still after the program's first NCAA title ... USC tied for 23rd in 2013, tied for 15th in 2012, tied for 12th in 2011 and was 15th in 2010.... USC's highest finish at an NCAA Championship final is third, something the Trojans did most recently in 2008, when they finished just two strokes out of first. That was Troy's top result since a third in 1975. The Trojans' most recent top 10 finish prior to 2008 came in 2005, when they took sixth ... Troy boasts four NCAA individual title winners. Scott Simpson won back-to-back NCAA crowns in 1976 and 1977 and Ron Commans did it in 1981. A long drought ended in 2007 when then-freshman Jamie Lovemark came from behind to win the individual title ... After failing to advance as a team in 2006 (though Taylor Wood qualified individually and tied for 27th), USC returned to the NCAA Championships final in 2007. Though USC was cut after three rounds, Lovemark's score, however, allowed him to continue as an individual entry, setting himself up for his final-round run to the title.


    Anthony Paolucci
    Junior Anthony Paolucci, ranked No. 14 in the last Palmer Cup standings and 46 nationally by, won his first collegiate tournament at the Jones Invitational in February, holding on for a one-stroke victory thanks to a birdie on the 18th hole to win at par 216 (70-73-73) ... He has six top 10 finishes this year and eight top 12s, including a second place finish at the NCAA Sugar Grove Regional at 1-under 215 (73-73-69) ... He is second on the team in stroke average (71.88) to go with 10 rounds in the 60s, also second... He took second at the Gifford Collegiate at 7-under 203 (68-66-69) and tied for fifth at the Arizona Intercollegiate at 1-over 214 (65-70-79) where his first round was a collegiate best. He also tied for seventh at The Goodwin at 3-under 207 (70-68-69), for ninth at the Amer Ari Invitational at 10-under 206 (68-67-71), tied for 11th at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at even 216 (74-70-72) and tied for 12th at the William H. Tucker Invitational at 5-over 221 (73-73-75).

    Rico Hoey
    Freshman Rico Hoey, a 2014 Palmer Cup selection as a top 6 automatic pick, leads the Trojans with a 71.36 stroke average to go with a team-high 14 rounds in the 60s, including a recent streak of seven in a row ... He is ranked No. 20 nationally and boasts one of USC's two wins this season, a victory at the Gifford Collegiate in November when he finished at 8-under 202 (68-66-68), one of eight top 10 finishes ... Hoey, who at one point had four straight top 5 results, had back-to-back second-places at The Goodwin at 8-under 202 (66-69-67) and at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at 9-under 207 (71-69-67). He also tied for third at the Western Intercollegiate at 4-under 206 (68-68-70), tied for fourth at the U.S. Collegiate Championship at 4-under 212 (70-71-71), took fifth at the Jones Invitational at 5-over 221 (74-73-74), tied for sixth at the NCAA Sugar Grove Regional at 4-over 220 (75-70-75) and tied for seventh at the Amer Ari Invitational at 11-under 205 (65-69-71). He was in the top 10 mix in his collegiate debut at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, but was disqualified after signing for an incorrect scorecard.

    Jeffrey Kang
    Senior Jeffrey Kang, an All-American as a 2012 sophomore, is fourth on the team with a stroke average of 73.07 and he has posted six top 12 finishes, including a second-place at the Amer Ari Invitational at 15-under 201 (66-67-68). It was USC's lowest 54-hole score since Rory Hie won the 2008 U.S. Intercollegiate at 10-under 200. Kang tied for eighth at the Kikkor Individual at 4-over 217 (72-70-75) as well as at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at 1-under 215 (71-73-71), tied for 10th at the Jones Invitational at 7-over 223 (76-73-74), tied for 12th at the William H. Tucker at 5-over 221 (74-74-73) and tied for 12th at the Arizona Intercollegiate (70-73-75) ... He has four rounds in the 60s this year.

    Paul Smith
    Junior Paul Smith, the younger brother of former Trojan All-American Sam Smith and a first-year Trojan, has five top 20 finishes this season, including a tie for seventh at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational at 2-under 214 (72-73-69) and his best effort of the season, a tie for ninth at the Pac-12 Championships at 4-over 292 (71-71-72-78). Smith was in contention for the conference title until late in the final round. Other top finishes this year include a tie for 16th at The Goodwin at even 210 (71-73-66) and a tie for 18th at the Gifford Collegiate at 3-over 213 (75-70-68). He also tied for 19th at the Jones Invitational at 10-over 226 (74-76-76). He has three rounds in the 60s, each coming in final rounds.

    Eric Sugimoto
    Eric Sugimoto is the squad's newest member, the junior joining the Trojans this spring after two seasons at Pacific. Sugimoto, third on the team in stroke average (72.96), won the 2013 Big West Championships title as a sophomore for his first collegiate win and earned All-Big West first team honors. He has seen action in every spring event, highlighted by a tie for a tie for fourth at the Pac-12 Championships at 1-under 287 (74-72-73-68). Sugimoto's final round marked his third round in the 60s this season. His other top 10 finish this season was a sixth at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at 2-under 214 (70-74-70). He has four other top 26 finishes, including a tie for 20th at the Amer Ari Invitational at 8-under 208 (70-70-68) and a tie for 15th at the Jones Invitational at 9-over 225 (74-74-77).