No. 1 USC Claims Top Spot In NCAA Championships Match Play Bracket|
May 25, 2015
Sophomore Karen Chung fired a final-round 1-under 71 while fellow sophomore Gabriella Then tied for 10th overall as the No. 1 USC women's golf team finished first after 72 holes of stroke play at the 2015 NCAA Championships on Monday (May 25) in Bradenton, Fla., earning the top seed in the eight-team match-play tournament beginning Tuesday.
The Trojans, a three-time NCAA team champion, finished first at 40-over 1192 (297-303-298-294) at the challenging Concession G.C., closing with their best round of a tournament filled with multiple weather delays that twice forced many teams, including USC, to finish rounds in early in the morning and re-start in the afternoon.
That included today, when the Trojans woke up to finish the final holes of the third round beginning at 7:30 a.m. before taking a three-hour break to start the final 18 holes. USC trailed Duke to start the fourth round but took over first on the front 9, grew its lead to as many as 10 strokes and never led by less than four strokes the rest of the day.
Duke took second at 45-over 1197 while Baylor was third at 46-over 1198 and Stanford fourth at 47-over 1199.
"It obviously means a lot to win stroke play, because I feel that defines our team, how deep we are and how talented we are," USC Coach Andrea Gaston said. "I'm really proud of them. All we said this week was that they had to stay focused and patient and they did.
"Getting the draw we did with tee times, they really had to have the stamina to get to bed and back up to battle again on such a difficult layout. You just had to draw on every ounce of energy and bring it out to this course and do the best you could do. I've been at 18 NCAA championships and this was one of most difficult."
The Trojans will face eighth-seed Washington in the quarterfinal match beginning Tuesday at 7:50 a.m. ET. If they win, they will face the winner of fellow Pac-12 teams Stanford (4-seed) and Arizona (5-seed) - another 7:50 a.m. start -- in the afternoon.
Two-seed Duke will face seven-seed Texas Tech and three-seed Baylor will face six-seed Tennessee on the other side of the bracket. Both teams tee off at 7 a.m. ET.
Golf Channel is scheduled to air coverage Tuesday from 7:30-9:30 a.m. and semifinal coverage from 12:30-4 pm. PT.
"Now we start over," Gaston said. "Hopefully our girls can get refreshed and clean the slate. It's important for them to almost forget about the past few days and start over. Now we don't have to worry as much about the scores and hopefully that will allow them to free up a bit. With this demanding course, you have the tendency to tighten up and the course can get very narrow and the greens are difficult. Hopefully they'll get out there and play aggressive. I like our lineup from top to bottom."
Then tied for10th at 7-over 295 (75-74-73-73) while junior Annie Park, the 2013 NCAA champion, tied for 14th at 9-over 297 (70-76-76-74).
Then notched her sixth top 10 of the year - all in the spring season - with her consistent play. She was 1-over going out and even coming in with four birdies. She wasn't in the Trojans NCAA lineup a year ago.
"I've been working for a year now on my swing," Then said. "It's good to see the hard work paying off. Our team was very patient the past four days and we need to maintain the same focus tomorrow."
Park battled her putter for much of the day but still managed three birdies en route to her sixth straight top 20.
Chung closed with her best round of the week to tie for 21st at 12-over 300 (77-79-73-71). She had five birdies, including one on 18 to finish below par today and go even over the final two rounds.