The No. 3 women’s golf team fell just short of repeating the dream at the 2009 NCAA Championships last Friday at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mill, Md.
The Women of Troy, looking for their first-ever repeat national title, fell from first to third on the final day to finish at 39-over-par 1191 (301-295-294-301), nine strokes back of No. 1 Arizona State at 30-over 1182 (302-298-291-291) and one stroke back of No. 2 UCLA at 38-over 1190 (296-293-304-297).
“When we made the turn the final day, ASU started making the birdies and we didn’t,” said Coach Andrea Gaston. tags
Freshman Jennifer Song led as an individual going into the final round and finished tied for second. Song finished at two-over 290 (72-73-71-74), one stroke back of Purdue’s Maria Hernandez. Song was hurt by her play on the 18th hole all week, finishing five-over in four tries.
Song’s finish is her fourth consecutive in the top two, and her sixth top-three finish for the season. Song’s outing topped off a very successful freshman year for the Korean native. She finished with a season average of 71.55 strokes per round, a USC record and the lowest average in the nation.
Song was named a First Team All-American and Freshman of the Year by the National Golf Coaches Association.
Sophomore Lizette Salas finished tied for 16th at 10-over 298 (74-74-75-75). A consistent top 10 finisher throughout the season, she acknowledged that she didn’t play her best.
“I was hitting the ball well, but I wasn’t getting the breaks I wanted to on the greens,” she said. “But that’s golf.”
Salas’ finish concludes a season in which she finished every tournament inside the top 18, and finished fourth in the nation for scoring. Her scoring average for the season was 71.82 strokes, the second lowest in school history behind Song. Salas also earned First Team All-American honors.
“I’m going to keep working hard, and try to get first team all American again, and maybe player of the year,” Salas said.
Junior Belen Mozo, last season’s fourth place finisher at the national championship, finished tied for 21st at 11-over 299 (78-72-73-76). Mozo became USC’s fourth three-time All-American when she was named to the Second Team this season.
Junior Caroline Kim finished tied for 57th at 20-over 308 (77-76-79-76), highlighted by an even par back nine on the final day. Freshman In-Ah Park finished in a tie for 75th at 24-over 312 (79-79-75-79).
Though disappointed in its finish, the team is already looking ahead to next year.
“I think they’re stronger for it, and I think they learned how to practice more effectively and manage the course better,” Gaston said.
“The way things happened this year, we’re not too happy with our results, and that’ll motivate us a lot for next season,” Salas said.
The Women of Troy will return all their talent next season.
“We’re returning our entire traveling roster, plus Stephanie Endstrasser (2008 All-American),” Gaston said. “We expect nothing less than to go after another national championship.”