No. 1 USC Tied For 3rd After NCAA Championships First Round

    Junior Doris Chen tied her USC career best with a 67 for a share of first place after the NCAA Championships first round.

    May 20, 2014


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    Junior Doris Chen matched her career best with a 3-under 67, earning a share of the individual lead and pacing No. 1 USC to a tie for third at +13 as it begins its title defense at the 2014 NCAA Women's Golf Championships at a blustery Tulsa (Okla.) C.C. on Tuesday (May 20).

    The Trojans combined for a 13-over 293, tied with Arizona State and Duke, five back of day one leader Oklahoma (288) and two behind second-place UCLA (291).

    USC is looking to become the first repeat NCAA champion since Duke won three in a row between 2005-07. The Trojans are nine-time winners this season, which broke last year's school season-record of seven.

    Chen proved masterly on a day when the winds swirled and the gusts reached 20-25 mph, carding a 67 with four birdies against one bogey. She was even on the front 9 with a birdie on 5 and a bogey on 6 and went to 1-under with a 5-foot birdie on 11.

    She sank a shorter putt for a birdie on the par 5 16th hole and knocked another birdie in from about six feet on the par 3 17th. She sent her second shot from the fairway into the bunker right of the hole on 18, but chipped to within about four feet and converted for par. She is in a three-way tie for first and was one of just seven golfers (out of 126) to break par today.

    "I think throughout the day I was playing pretty steady," said Chen, whose 67 was her career-best fourth round in the 60s this season. "Fortunately I got some birdie chances late and made some short putts. It was definitely difficult today (with the wind). But I've had some similar experiences from past tournaments and I was just trying to commit to each shot today and commit to my target."

    Freshman Karen Chung tied for 28th at 4-over 74 while sophomore Annie Park, the defending NCAA individual champion, is tied for 41st at 5-over 75. Chung was 4-over going out and managed par coming home with birdies on 10 and 14. Park was 2-over on the front and 3-over on the back with three birdies on the day.

    Sophomore Kyung Kim is tied for 70th at 7-over 77 while senior Sophia Popov tied for 91st at 9-over 79. Each had one birdie on the day.

    "On a day like today, you just have to be really patient and know that there is still a lot of golf left and hopefully we can make a quick turn-around tomorrow morning and make up for a few mistakes," USC Coach Andrea Gaston said. "I think we left a lot of shots on the putting green today. Sometimes it's tough with a quick turn-around to get the right feeling, but hopefully we'll be able to get off to a good start and the course will be fresh for us early in the morning.

    "We've played in quite a bit of wind in the postseason, at the Pac-12s and at the regional. I think our team is really good in the wind. We really do embrace conditions that make it challenging because that's when our team can step up and separate ourselves. But the difference today was we had a lot of gusty winds and sometimes that's hard because once that comes up in the middle of a swing, you can't control that."

    USC will start the second round - again with UCLA and Vanderbilt -- at 7:30 a.m. (CT) off the 10th tee. Teams will be re-seeded for the third and fourth rounds.