March 12, 2015
The No. 2 USC women's golf team, which posted a pair of wins during its four-event fall slate and has five top 2 finishes in seven tournaments this year, travels to Tucson this weekend for the Wildcat Invitational, Monday and Tuesday (March 16-17) at the Sewailo G.C.
The field for the two-day, 54-hole event includes USC, host Arizona and Campbell, Houston, Idaho, Kansas, Long Beach State, Michigan, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UNLV, Washington State and Wisconsin.
Play begins at 7:30 a.m. both days, with 36 holes Monday and 18 Tuesday. Results for the tournament will be available at Birdfire.com.
For the third straight event, USC's fivesome will feature juniors Annie Park and Kyung Kim, sophomores Karen Chung and Gabriella Then and freshman Amy Lee. Playing individually will be juniors Victoria Morgan and So Young Hwang.
USC, which won the Windy City Collegiate and shared first-place honors at the Stanford Intercollegiate during the fall season, had nine wins last year, including a national best 10th NCAA regional crown, the total two better than the school-record seven it won in 2013. The Trojans finished no lower than a tie for second place in the four events it didn't win.
That included a two-stroke loss to Duke at the 2014 NCAA Championships, where USC just missed its second straight national title and the fourth in program history. In addition to national championships in 2003, 2008 and 2013, Gaston's USC teams have finished second at the NCAAs four times, including three times in the last five seasons (2010, 2012, 2014) by a combined deficit of four strokes.
USC's 286.26 stroke average per round this year was the best in school history, breaking the record set last year (288.76) by 2.5 strokes. The Trojans also set a record for team rounds of par or better with 21, seven more than last year, the previous best.
The Trojans bring back the past two NCAA champions in senior Doris Chen (2014) and junior Annie Park (2013), three- and two-time All-Americans, respectively. Also back is two-time All-American junior Kyung Kim, All-American sophomore Karen Chung and oft-used sophomore Gabriella Then.
In addition to the five returning starters (Then was a part-time starter), USC welcomes back juniors Victoria Morgan and Kim Santiago, both walk-ons. USC's two fall newcomers are junior transfers Elizabeth Doty (Wake Forest) and So Young Hwang (Daytona State). The Trojans have also added freshman enrollee Amy Lee, a prep star from Brea, Calif., who joined the team in January.
* Junior Annie Park qualified for the final stage of the LPGA "Q" School, but did not finish high enough to earn a card. Park tied for third at the Stage II event at 6-under 282 (70-71-71-70).
* Park's win at the Windy City Collegiate Classic was the sixth of her Trojan career, breaking the USC career record she previously shared with former teammate Sophia Popov, Irene Cho and Mikaela Parmlid.
* Junior Kyung Kim is second on USC's career list for rounds in the 60s with 20 while Park is third with 19. Park started the season with 15, Kim at 17. Popov owns the record at 22.
* The Trojans have put together an amazing amount of wins over the past two-plus seasons. USC has finished first in 14 of its past 23 outings, 17 of 27 and 18 of 29 dating back to the fall of 2012.
* A USC golfer has also finished first 13 times in the Trojans' past 29 events, dating back to the fall of 2012.
* USC's roster now features five players who have finished first (or tied for first) at at least one collegiate event, including Then (one), Park (six), Kim (three), Chung (one) and senior Doris Chen (two). v
* USC has featured the most golfers on the LPGA Tour for the past two seasons and 2015 graduate Sophia Popov is ready to help make it three in a row. The 2014 graduate and four-time All-American who helped USC to a 2013 NCAA title and second-place finishes in 2012 and 2014, earned full-time LPGA Tour status after tying for 11th during the five-round LPGA Qualifying School final stage at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., in December. Popov finished at 5-under 355 (70-67-72-71-75) to earn her tour card on the first try. She will join o n tour, among others, former teammate Lizette Salas, who finished the 2014 season 24th on the LPGA's official money list, as well as top 70 finishers and former Trojan All-Americans Belen Mozo, Dewi Schreefel, Candie Kung, Jennifer Song and Jennifer Song.
* Sophomore Gabriella Then posted a career-best effort at the UCI Invitational, tying for first at 5-under 211 (70-68-73), which included a career low in the second round, before falling in a five-hole playoff. She might have won the event out-right had she not suffered multiple putts that lipped out down the stretch. Then posted her third straight top 10 with a tie for third at the Darius Rucker Invitational at 1-over 214 (69-72-73).
* Junior Kyung Kim quietly has strung together five top 14 performances in as many starts this year, including a pair of ties for seventh. Sophomore Karen Chung has five top 20 finishes in seven starts.
* Freshman early enrollee Amy Lee started her Trojan career with a brilliant debut at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, finishing third at 2-under 211 (68-72-71) and followed it up with a tie for 10th at the UCI Invitational at 1-over 217 (71-73-73).
2014-15 Event Recaps
Senior Doris Chen and sophomore Karen Chung tied for 11th, topping the USC women's golf team's season-opening efforts as the Trojans finished sixth at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate at the Reunion Watson Course in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 30. The Trojans, playing without All-American juniors Annie Park and Kyung Kim, finished a combined 5-over 869 (287-291-291), 15 back of winner South Carolina (854). Arizona took second (861). Chen (70-72-73) and Chung (72-72-71), also 2014 All-Americans, each finished at 1-under 215. Chen was 3-over through 16 before finishing with two birdies. Chung was 1-over going out but 2-under coming back. Sophomore transfer Elizabeth Doty tied for 25th at 3-over 219 (72-74-73) and had four birdies against five bogeys in the final round.
Windy City Collegiate Championship
Junior Annie Park missed USC's season-opener but arrived just in time for its second Fall event and proved vital, winning the Windy City Collegiate Championship at 5-under while spearheading a three-stroke team victory as the Trojans defended their 2013 title on Oct. 7 at the Westmoreland (Ill.) C.C. The Trojans began the day six ahead of host Northwestern, stretched the lead to as many as nine before seeing it all evaporate on the back 9. But a Park eagle on 11 and a birdie on 13 helped rebuild the advantage and proved the difference as USC won at 12-over 876 (294-287-295), three ahead of the Wildcats' 879. Park's win was the sixth of her Trojan career, breaking the tie with former teammate Sophia Popov, Irene Cho and Mikaela Parmlid. She finished at 5-under 211 (73-69-69), her final two rounds giving her 17 rounds in the 60s for her career, tied with junior teammate Kyung Kim for second place in program history. Park posted her victory days after flying to Illinois from Florida, where she successfully advanced into the final stage of the LPGA's "Q" School. While Park hung on for the win with a 3-under back 9 and a finish of five straight pars, senior Doris Chen turned in her second straight strong outing and tied for fourth at even 216 (71-73-72). She was battling Park for the individual lead through the front 9 before Park's back 9 eagle and her two late bogeys that dropped her to par for the day and the tournament. Chen, who tied for 11th with sophomore Karen Chung last week in the season opening ANNIKA Intercollegiate, has not finished lower than 22nd for seven straight events dating back to last year (including the 2014 NCAA title), and has six top 11 finishes within the streak.
Juniors Kyung Kim (67) and Annie Park (68), senior Doris Chen (69) and sophomore Karen Chung (70) all carded under-par final rounds as the USC women's golf team came from behind to earn a share of the title at the Stanford Intercollegiate at the Stanford (Calif.) G.C. on Oct. 19. The Trojans, the two-time defending champions of the event, began the day three back of UCLA, but used a 10-under 274 final round to finish at 15-under 837 (284-279-274), tied with host Stanford for first. UCLA finished a stroke back at 838. The next closest team was Washington (1-under 851). USC was coming off a win in its previous event at the Windy City Collegiate Classic. Chen, the 2014 NCAA individual champion, finished second at 6-under 207 (73-65-69) for her second straight top 4 finish while Kim, making her season debut, took seventh at 4-under 209 (79-72-67). Chung was 12th at 2-under 211 (72-69-70) for her third straight top 20, Park was 16th at 1-under 212 (71-73-68) that followed a win in her last event and sophomore Gabriella Then was 40th at 4-over 217 (71-75-71). Kim had a five-birdie day to complete her first event and was 3-under on the back 9. Park had two birdies and an eagle on the par 5 seventh hole en route to her third round in the 60s this year while Chen had five birdies against three bogeys.
Sophomore Gabriella Then led No. 3 USC with a final-round 72 as the Trojans completed the fall season with a tie for fifth at the Nanea Pac-12 Preview on Nov. 4 at the Nanea G.C. in Kailua, Hawaii. The Trojans, who came into the event with two straight first-place finishes but without senior All-American Doris Chen, tied for fifth at 16-over 892 (294-303-295). Washington won the event at 11-under 865. Junior Kyung Kim led USC with a tie for 14th at 3-over 222 (74-75-73) while junior Annie Park tied for 17th at 4-over 223 (69-77-77). Then turned in a season-best tie for 21st at 6-over 225 (77-76-72) while sophomore Karen Chung tied for 31st at 11-over 230 (74-83-83). Sophomore Elizabeth Doty tied for 41st at 14-over 233 (78-75-80).
Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
Freshman Amy Lee completed a strong collegiate debut with a third-place finish while sophomore Gabriella Then turned a final-round 69 as the No. 6 USC women's golf team finished second at the annual Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge on Feb. 10 at the Palos Verdes (Calif.) G.C. The Trojans wrapped up play at 15-over 867 (287-292-288), four back of first-place Baylor's 11-over 863 (281-289-293) and 13 better than third-place Arizona State (880). USC was playing without senior Doris Chen (2014) and junior Annie Park (2013), the past two NCAA individual champions. USC, which won the event last year with an 866, rallied during the back 9, slicing what was a 10-stroke lead to three late in the day, but fell just short of catching the Bears. Lee, who like Park two years begins her collegiate career at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge as a spring semester early enrollee, took third at 2-under 211 (68-72-71), three back of UCLA individual winner Bronte Law. In a steady final round, Lee was even on both nines with a birdie and bogey on each.
Then turned in her second-best collegiate effort, finishing 10th at 3-over 216 (73-74-69). Her final-round 2-under featured four birdies and she was 2-under on the back 9. Junior Kyung Kim tied for 13th at 6-over 219 (72-72-75) for her third top 14 in as many outings this year. She had three birdies on the day and was 1-over on the front 9. Sophomore Karen Chung tied for 18th at 8-over 221 (74-74-73) for her fourth top 20 finish this season.
Sophomore Gabriella Then tied for first before falling in a five-hole playoff while the No. 2 USC women's golf team took second place at the UCI Invitational at the Santa Ana (Calif.) C.C. on Feb. 24. The Trojans finished second at 1-over 865 (287-290-288), 11 back of first-place Washington (854). Texas A&M was third (865). Then, whose previous collegiate best was a tie for fifth as a freshman, tied for first today at 5-under 211 (70-68-73) with Aggie Marijosse Navarro. Then's birdie putt on 17 for a two-stroke lead lipped out, one of a handful of putts that didn't fall for Then today, and Navarro birdied 18 to force a playoff. The two tied on the first four playoff holes with a birdie, par, bogey and birdie. But Then missed a par putt to stay alive on the fifth hole. Despite the playoff loss, the finish was Then's second top 10 to start spring play. Junior Kyung Kim (70-78-69) and freshman Amy Lee (71-73-73) tied for 10th at 1-over 217. Kim's final round gives her 19 rounds in the 60s for her career, tying her with junior Annie Park for second on USC's career chart. The team record is 22. Kim had five birdies on the day and was 2-under on the front 9. Lee finished with her second straight top 10 to start her collegiate career after a third at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge.
Darius Rucker Intercollegiate
Sophomores Gabriella Then tied for third for her second straight top 3 while junior Kyung Kim tied for seventh to lead the No. 3 USC women's golf team, which took second for the third event in a row at the Darius Rucker Invitational on March 8. The Trojans combined for a 15-over 867 (285-296-286), tying with LSU behind first-place Duke, which won at 6-over 858. Fourth place was 22 shots back of USC and LSU. The Trojans have posted top 2 finishes in five of its last six events. Then, who tied for first in her previous tournament, registered her third straight top 10 with her tie for third at 1-over 214 (69-72-73). Then was even going out and 2-over on the back. Kim's tie for seventh at 3-over 217 (72-77-68) was her highest finish since her first event in October. She had five birdies on the day. Kim's final round is her third in the 60s this year, 20th for her career, second behind school-record holder Sophia Popov's 22. Sophomore Karen Chung tied for 13th at 6-over 219 (70-75-74), her third top 13 this year. She had two birdies on the day.