No. 1 USC Finishes Regular Season At Liz Murphey Invitational|
March 31, 2016
The No. 1 USC women's golf team, a four-time winner this season with two match play titles, completes its regular season with the combination stroke play-match play format of the Liz Murphey Classic, Friday through Sunday (April 1-3), at the University of Georgia G.C. in Athens, Ga.
In addition to USC and host No. 6 Georgia, the highly ranked 12-team field includes No. 5 Alabama, No. 7 Arkansas, Auburn Denver, No. 2 Duke, No. 12 Kent State, No. 4 Northwestern, Oregon State, Purdue and No. 3 UCLA.
Action on the par 72, 6,307-yard course begins Friday at 5:30 a.m. PT with 18 holes off a shotgun start. The Trojans play with the Bulldogs, under the direction of former USC assistant coach Josh Brewer, at 6:10 a.m. PT.
The top eight teams from Friday's stroke play will advance to the "Red" winners bracket while the bottom four will begin in the "Black" bracket. Two rounds of match play Saturday will follow with one more on Sunday.
The Trojans won title last year in the tournament's first year in the current format. USC first defeated UCLA, 3-2, and Duke, 4-1, before downing Georgia in the final thanks to an 8-5 margin of victory tiebreaker after a 2.5-2.5 tie.
Results will be available at Birdiefire.com.
Also this week, junior Karen Chung will play as an amateur in the LPGA's Ana Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, beginning Thursday, March 31. She is joining incoming freshman Hannah O'Sullivan as one of six amateurs playing in the prestigious event.
The Trojans opened and closed the fall season with impressive wins, first capturing the Annika Intercollegiate at a school-record 36-under with a 23-stroke margin of victory before defeating Baylor and Duke to win the inaugural East Lake Cup match play title. Junior Karen Chung claimed her third career collegiate title at 12-under 204 (68-68-68) at the Annika Intercollegiate, the second-lowest 54-hole total in school history. USC followed it with a fifth-place finish at the Windy City Collegiate, where Chung tied for second, and a second-place finish at the Stanford Intercollegiate where freshman Robynn Ree tied for eighth before closing the fall with the win at East Lake. USC opened the spring semester with a fourth at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge before both Ree and the Trojans won at The Gold Rush in Seal Beach, Calif. USC tied for eighth at the Darius Rucker Invitational, but bounced back to win the SDSU March Mayhem at The Farms, claiming four match play wins for the title, including a 4-1 win over Arizona in the final match.
National rankings of this week's lineup
* Robynn Ree -- No. 11
* Tiffany Chan -- No. 33
* Gabriella Then -- No. 51
* Kyung Kim -- No. 68
* Amy Lee -- No. 87
USC Women's Outlook in Brief
USC, under 20th-year head coach Andrea Gaston, is led by senior three-time All-American Kyung Kim and junior All-Americans Gabriella Then and Karen Chung and is coming off its 10th straight NCAA Championships top 5 finish.
The Trojans return seven golfers from last year, including four who helped Troy reach the 2015 NCAA Championships match play semifinals in the first year the NCAA title was not decided by stroke play. USC finished atop the field after 72 holes of stroke play and won its quarterfinal match against Washington but fell to eventual winner Stanford in the semifinals.
Kim, Then, Chung and sophomore Amy Lee are USC's returning quartet of golfers who played in last year's NCAA Championships while Kim is the last Trojan left on the squad who played on the Trojans' 2013 NCAA title team, the program's third.
Other returning veterans include seniors Victoria Morgan and Kim Santiago and junior Elizabeth Doty. USC welcomes three talented newcomers who will all challenge for playing time, including junior college transfer Tiffany Chan and freshmen Robynn Ree and Isabel Ji.
Chan, originally from Hong Kong, won back-to-back NJACC national individual titles in her two years at Daytona State College while leading her school to the 2014 national title as a freshman. Ree was the third-ranked player in last year's senior class while Ji, from China, brings tremendous international experience to the team.
USC Women's Notes
* The Trojans have put together an impressive amount of wins over the past three-plus seasons. USC has finished first in 21 of its past 36 outings, 24 of 40 and 25 of 42 dating back to the third tournament of the 2012-13 schedule.
* USC won five times last year, marking the third straight year it has won at least that many events. USC won nine times in 2014 and seven in 2013. Including this season, Troy has also won at least four events in seven of the past nine years.
* Senior Kyung Kim, with a final round 68 at the Stanford Intercollegiate, is now tied for first on USC's career chart in rounds in the 60s (22), tied with Annie Park (who turned pro after her junior season in May). Kim is also fourth on USC's career stroke average chart at 72.53 (as of the end of the 2015 season), second among Trojans who have played at least three seasons.
* Junior Karen Chung, second in stroke average (72.00), has three top 10s and one win this year. She had three rounds in the 60s for all of the 2014-15 season, a total she matched in USC's season-opener and then surpassed after opening her second tournament with one more. Chung's win in the season opener at the Annika Intercollegiate at 12-under 204 (68-68-68) was the third of her career, tied with Kim for 6th on USC's career chart. She also tied for second at the Windy City Collegiate with a team-best 7-under 209 (68-71-70) and tied for ninth at The Gold Rush at 4-over 220 (70-75-75). She split her matches in USC's win at the East Lake Cup, including a 4&2 win over Duke's Celine Boutier. At the SDSU March Mayhem, she went 3-0-1 in her matches, including a 6&5 win over Stanford's Casey Danielson in the semifinals and a 1up win over Arizona's Haley Moore in the final.
* Chung was the first Trojan to string together three straight rounds in the 60s in the same 54-hole event since Kim opened the 2013-14 season in the same fashion. Doris Chen also had three rounds in the 60s at the close of that same season, but it was as part of the 72-hole NCAA Championships.
* USC's 36-under (828=276-271-281) performance at the Annika Intercollegiate lowered USC's record for under par by six strokes. The previous record was 30-under at the Arizona Wildcat Intercollegiate last season. Eight of USC's 15 rounds were in the 60s. The second-round 271 tied USC's second-lowest team round ever.
* Freshman Robynn Ree leads USC in stroke average (71.61) and has four top 10s and five in the top 20. Ree, who has been USC's top golfer in three of its six stroke play events, won her first collegiate tournament at The Gold Rush at 4-under 212 (70-71-71). She was second at the Annika Intercollegiate at 10-under 206 (68-66-72) in her collegiate debut, tied for eighth at the Stanford Intercollegiate at 1-over 214 (70-72-72) and led USC with a tie for ninth at the Darius Rucker Invitational at 5-over 218 (72-73-73). She split her matches in USC's win at the East Lake Cup, defeating Baylor's Maggie Beth Byers, 4&3, in the semifinal round. Ree went 4-0 in her matches at the SDSU March Mayhem, including a semifinal 4&3 win over Stanford's Mariah Stackhouse and a 3&2 win over Arizona's Krystal Quihuis in the final.
* Junior Gabriella Then has three top 20s this season and is the only Trojan who has finished no worse than a tie for 33rd this year. She is fourth on the team in stroke average (72.83) and is tied with a team-best four rounds in the 60s. Her fall season was highlighted by a tie for seventh at the Annika Intercollegiate at 6-under 210 (69-72-69). She also tied for 15th to lead USC at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge with a 5-over 218 (77-72-69). She won both matches at The East Lake Cup, downing Baylor's Louise Gateau-Chavelon, 3&2, and Duke's Leona Maguire, the No. 1 amateur in the world at the time, 1up. She won twice at the SDSU March Mayhem, defeating Stanford's Shannon Aubert, 3up, in the semifinals and downing Arizona's Lindsey Weaver, 4&3, in the final.
* Junior college transfer Tiffany Chan is third on the squad in stroke average (72.39) and has four top 14 finishes. She finished a season-best third at The Gold Rush at 2-under 214 (75-68-71), tied for fourth at the Annika Intercollegiate at 8-under 208 (71-65-72) and tied for 11th at the Stanford Intercollegiate at 2-over 215 (74-71-70). She won both of her matches at the East Lake Cup, defeating Baylor's Laura Lonardi, 1up, and beating Duke's Sandy Choi, 3&2. The Hong Kong native represented Team Asia in Portugal in March at the Patsy Hankins Trophy.
* Sophomore Amy Lee posted her top result of the season with a second place at The Gold Rush at 3-under 213 (74-70-69) that included season-best final round. She missed an eagle putt on her final hole by inches that would have given her a share of first. Prior to that, she tied for first at the Matador Invitational at 16-over 232 (79-75-78). She went 3-1 to help USC win the SDSU March Mayhem, defeating Stanford's Quirine Eijkenboom, 1up, in the semifinals, and edging Arizona's Jessica Vasilic, 1up, in the final.
* Senior Victoria Morgan has played twice in stroke play events and tied for third at the Matador at 17-over 233 (78-78-77). She also helped USC win the SDSU March Mayhem, winning her opening match against UC Irvine before halving her match against Oregon in the quarterfinals. Morgan, in fact, needed to two-putt from 70 yards on her final hole to have her match and tie the overall match, which would send USC to the semifinals on a tiebreak. The senior proceeded to role her 70-foot putt to within 12 inches for a tap-in to secure the win.
* Incoming freshman Hannah O'Sullivan was one of eight Americans chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Curtis Cup Match. Current juniors Karen Chung and Gabriella Then were in the camp for prospective players held Dec. 18-19 at San Diego C.C. in Chula Vista, Calif., but were not selected for the team, which will compete June 10-12 at Dun Laoghaire G.C., located in Enniskerry, Ireland. The USA, featuring current senior Kyung Kim and recent Trojan Annie Park, won the 2014 Match, 13-7, at St. Louis (Mo.) Country Club.
* USC regularly boasts a robust representation on the LPGA Tour and this year is no different. Current Trojan greats on the tour include Nicole Castrale, Candie Kung, Belen Mozo, Jennifer Song, Annie Park, Cyna Rodriguez, Jennifer Rosales, Lizette Salas and Dewi Claire Schreefel. As of the end of March, Kung, Salas, Park and Song are all among the top 80 money leaders.
WINDY CITY COLLEGIATE
EAST LAKE CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS MATCH PLAY
NORTHROP GRUMMAN REGIONAL CHALLENGE
THE GOLD RUSH
SDSU MARCH MAYHEM AT THE FARMS