No. 1 USC Set For Title Run At NCAA Championships

    Senior Rico Hoey
    May 25, 2017

    2017 USC Men's Golf NCAA Notes Get Acrobat Reader

    The No. 1 USC men's golf team, a 2015 and 2016 NCAA Championships semifinalist with five firsts this year -- its most in almost a decade -- is playing for the program's first team title, Friday (May 26) through hopefully Wednesday (May 31) at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.

    The top 15 teams after 54 holes (May 26-28) will advance to a final stroke play round (May 29), when the field will be trimmed to eight teams who advance to a three-round match play tournament for the NCAA title. Quarterfinals and semifinals are set for May 30 with the final on May 31. The final stroke play round on May 29 will determine the individual champion.

    Action begins at 6:45 a.m. CT each of the first three days. USC will tee off Friday at 12:05 p.m. CT with fellow top seeds Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt off the 10th tee and will play in the morning wave on Saturday beginning at 6:45 a.m. CT off the first tee. Sunday's round will be set after the first 36 holes. The final stroke play round on May 30 is scheduled to start at approximately 11:30 a.m. CT. The match play quarterfinals begin May 30 at 7 a.m. with semifinals to follow at 1:30 p.m. CT and the championship match on May 31 will start at approximately 2:10 p.m. CT, Results will be available at Live Results

    The Golf Channel will provide three days of live coverage, beginning with the final day of stroke play on May 29 between 4-7 p.m. CT. It will air quarterfinal (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) and semifinal (3:30-7 p.m. CT) coverage on May 30 and will broadcast the championship match from 3-7 p.m. CT on May 31.

    USC AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
    USC, the NCAA runner-up in 2015 and a semifinalist in 2016, is making its 58th team trip to the NCAA final (third most behind Oklahoma State's 69 and Texas' 62, including this season) and its 11th trip in a row under 11th-year head coach Chris Zambri. USC and Texas own the nation's longest active streak of NCAA final appearances (11) 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... Before 2015, 2009 was the lone year USC had 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 ... In 2015, the Trojans defeated Texas, 4-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals and downed Illinois, 3-1-1, in the semifinals before falling to LSU, 4-1, in the final ... The 2016 Trojans made it back-to-back semifinal appearances as they defeated Vanderbilt, 4-1, in the quarterfinals before falling to eventual runner-up Texas, 4-1 ... The Trojans are still after the program's first NCAA title ... Prior to 2015, USC's previous highest finish at an NCAA Championship final was third, something the Trojans had done 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. Senior Rico Hoey's 2nd place finish in 2016 was USC's best finish since Lovemark's title.

    USC Wins NCAA Sammamish Regional
    Senior Rico Hoey turned in his third straight 1-under 70 to join junior Sean Crocker and sophomore Justin Suh in the top 5 as the No. 1 USC men's golf team won the NCAA Washington Regional on May 17 at the Aldarra G.C. in Sammamish, Wash., and clinched a spot in the NCAA Championships final. The Trojans won their third regional crown at a combined 3-under 849 (280-283-286) as USC weathered some front 9 struggles to close with a 5-under back 9 and win by six strokes over second-place No. 12 Kent State's 3-over 855. No. 24 Florida State and No. 36 Alabama tied for third at 10-over 862 while No. 49 Penn State earned the final NCAA berth from the regional in fifth at 11-over 863. Crocker (64-74-71) led after the first round and Suh (68-68-73) after the second and the two tied for fourth at 4-under 209, three back of Penn State's Cole Miller (69-69-68). Hoey, meanwhile, tied for fifth at 3-under 210 (70-70-70). Crocker closed at 3-under over his final eight holes while Suh was 2-under during the same stretch. The win was USC's fifth on the year, most since 2008.


    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
    NCAA Washington Regional: Crocker-Hoey-Jin-Suh -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 five 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. 9 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings with Hoey 17th, Cheng Jin 26th and Justin Suh 84th.

    * Crocker (70.66), Hoey (70.80) and Suh (71.06) currently boast stroke averages that would be among USC's top five season averages in the last 25 years. Crocker's 70.39 in 2015 is second best since complete records are available in 1993 while Hoey's 70.85 (2016) and 70.84 (2015) are third and fourth best. Jamie Lovemark is first at 70.10 (2007).

    * Freshman 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 9th by Golfweek and 6th by Golfstat.
    - Rico Hoey is ranked 10th by Golfweek and 19th by Golfstat.
    - Justin Suh is ranked 29th by Golfweek and 32nd by Golfstat.
    - Jonah Texeira is ranked 97th by Golfweek and 170th by Golfstat.
    - Cheng Jin is ranked 124th by Golfweek and 132nd by Golfstat.
    - Andrew Levitt is ranked 185th by Golfweek and 169th by Golfstat.


    Rico Hoey
    * Senior Rico Hoey leads USC with two wins and 13 rounds in the 60s and is second on the squad in stroke average (70.80) and tied for first with seven top 10 finishes, including six in the top 5 ... 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), tied for fifth at the NCAA Washington Regional at 3-under 210 (70-70-70) 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 (70.66), top 10 finishes (tied, seven, with 10 finishes in the top 16, four in the top 5), and is second in rounds in the 60s (12) ... 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) ... Crocker tied his season-best with a tie for second at the NCAA Washington Regional at 4-under 209 (64-74-71), his first-round 64 a career-best as a Trojan ... He also 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).

    Justin Suh
    * Sophomore Justin Suh, in his second year as a starter, is third on the squad with a 71.06 stroke average with four top 3 finishes, six top 10s and eight in the top 13, including his first collegiate title with a 5-under 205 (68-67-70) to capture the Western Intercollegiate. He has finished in the top 11 in five straight events and in the top 13 in eight of his past nine starts ... He was second at the Western Refining College All-American at 9-under 204 (69-68-67), tied for second at the NCAA Washington Regional at 4-under 209 (68-68-73) 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.

    Jonah Texeira
    * Junior Jonah Texeira is fourth on USC with a stroke average of 72.08. 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.

    Cheng Jin
    * Freshman Cheng Jin has seen immediate action this year, playing in 11 events, and is fifth on the squad with a stroke average of 72.65. 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.

    Andrew Levitt
    * Senior Andrew Levitt sports a stroke average of 72.93 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.

    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.