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.

    * Freshman Isabel Ji, junior Elizabeth Doty and senior Kim Santiago have each played once this year.

    * 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.


    EVENT RECAPS

    ANNIKA INTERCOLLEGIATE
    No. 2 USC women's golf team completed one of its most dominating performances in school history at the season-opening Annika Intercollegiate, winning by 23 strokes at a school-record 36-under while junior Karen Chung won the individual title at 12-under on a rain-soaked final round in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 29. The Trojans, against a field packed with many of the top teams in the nation, placed four golfers in the top 7 to win at 36-under 828 (276-271-281), 23 strokes better than second-place Arizona (851) and five off the NCAA record of 41-under. USC was not quite as hot as its school-record tying second-round, due in part to off-and-on downpours, but still managed to post the low round of the day as it won its second season-opener in three seasons. Chung claimed her third career collegiate title at 12-under 204 (68-68-68), the second-lowest 54-hole total in school history, coming from behind to edge freshman teammate Robynn Ree, who took second at 10-under 206 (68-66-72).

    WINDY CITY COLLEGIATE
    Junior Karen Chung followed her season-opening win with a tie for second while junior Tiffany Chan tied for 14th to lead the No. 2 USC women's golf team, which finished fifth at the Windy City Collegiate Championship on Oct. 6 in Chicago. The Trojans, coming off a school-record effort in their season-opening win last week, were in the hunt for a second victory until Tuesday's final holes. USC finished at 8-under 856 (283-283-290), four back of a three-way tie for first between host Northwestern, Arizona and Georgia at 12-under 852. Arizona State was fourth at 11-under 853. Chung, who won at 12-under last week, tied for second at 7-under 209 (68-71-70). It is USC's best back-to-back finishes since senior Kyung Kim opened the 2013-14 season with a win and tied for second at this same event. Chung was 2-under on her back in the final round and was even coming home. She was in the hunt for first before Georgia's Bailey Tardy got hot and won at 12-under 204 (70-67-67). Junior Tiffany Chan tied for 14th at 2-under 214 (69-71-74) while junior Gabriella Then tied for 19th at 1-under 215 (72-70-73), each registering their second straight top 20 finish.

    EAST LAKE CUP CHAMPIONSHIPS MATCH PLAY
    The No. 1 USC women's golf team completed a 4-1 semifinal win over Baylor in the morning and followed it with a 4-1 afternoon victory over Duke to capture the title at the inaugural East Lake Cup at the East Lake G.C. in Atlanta on Nov. 3 in an event that featured the 2015 NCAA Championships match play semifinalists. The victory was the Trojans second this year. USC led Baylor when semifinal play resumed and finished off the Bears in prompt fashion. Senior Kyung Kim was the lone Trojan to finish her match Monday night, winning 6&4. Freshman Robynn Ree (4&3), junior Gabriella Then (3&2) and junior Tiffany Chan (1up) completed Tuesday wins. Junior Karen Chung fell, 1up. The battle with Duke, a 4-1 semifinal winner over defending NCAA champion Stanford, pit both 2015 NCAA semifinal losers in the title match. USC never trailed in any of its four winning matches and led for all but three holes on the back 9 of those pairings. Chung defeated Celine Boutier, 4&2, Kim defeated Gurbani Singh, 3&1, Chan downed Sandy Choi, 3&2, and Then defeated Leona Maguire, the top-ranked amateur at the time, 1up.

    NORTHROP GRUMMAN REGIONAL CHALLENGE
    Junior Gabriella Then fired a 2-under 69 and finished with back-to-back birdies to lead the No. 1 USC women's golf team during the final round of the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge on Feb. 9. The Trojans, who briefly closed to within six strokes early in the final round, finished their spring season-opening event in fourth at 25-over 877 (295-289-293). Washington came from behind to win the event at 6-over 858 while Alabama was second (+12) and Florida was third (+17). Then tied for 15th at 5-over 218 (77-72-69) thanks to a four-birdie final round, two on 11 and 12 and two more on 5 and 6 to close her day. It was her third top 20 in four outings this year and her fifth in her last six events and she now has a team-best-tying four rounds in the 60s. Freshman Robynn Ree tied for 17th at 6-over 219 (72-69-78). She was in contention for much of the final round before a spate of tough holes during the final portion of the day. She has three rounds in the 60s this year.

    THE GOLD RUSH
    Freshman Robynn Ree outlasted sophomore Amy Lee by one stroke for her first collegiate victory while junior Tiffany Chan followed her underclassmen teammates in third to lead the No. 1 USC women's golf team to the team title at the Gold Rush at the Old Ranch C.C. Feb. 23. USC secured its third win of the season and the first of the spring at 1-under 863 (286-285-292), 18 better than second-place Fresno State. Lee held the lead at 2-under midway through the final round and Chan joined her there after a birdie on 16. Lee got to 3-under when she finished her round with a birdie on 16, just missing an eagle in the process. But they were both passed by Ree, who birdied 15, 16 and 17 to get to 4-under and then clinched the individual win with a tap-in on 18. Ree's 4-under 212 (70-71-71) win was her second top 2 this season. Lee's finish at 3-under 213 (74-70-69) was her second top 2 in a row after a tie for first at the Matador Invitational two weeks ago. Chan's third-place effort at 2-under 212 (75-68-71) is a USC best for her. She had two birdies and one bogey during her final round.

    SDSU MARCH MAYHEM AT THE FARMS
    Juniors Gabriella Then and Karen Chung and freshman Robynn Ree all won matches to lead No. 1 USC to a 3-1 win over No. 9 Arizona in the championship match of the SDSU March Mayhem Match Play at the Farms C.C. in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., on March 23. In the fourth straight win of the event and the third straight victory over a Pac-12 rival, USC defeated Arizona for its fourth tournament title of the season. Today's victory followed an opening round win over UC Irvine, a quarterfinal win over Oregon and yesterday semifinal triumph over Stanford. Chung clinched the win today at 1up after a tight match came down to 18. Chung, who had held a slim lead for most of the match over Arizona's Haley Moore, needed to halve 18 to win her match. She hit her third shot from 131 yards to within six yards of the pin for a birdie try while Moore had 10 feet for eagle. But Moore missed her putt while Chung sunk hers for the one-hole win. Then earlier defeated Arizona's Lindsey Weaver, 4&3 for USC's first point. After halving the first five holes, Then took her first lead with a birdie on 6 and gave herself a two-hole lead with another on 8. She stretched the lead to three on 12 and used a par on 15 to clinch her match. Ree won her match over Wildcat Krystal Quihuis, 3&2, and, like Then, never trailed in the match. After an early lead, she was all square through 7 before winning the next two holes. She extended the lead to 3up through 15 and won her match after halving 16.