Women of Troy lead after strong first day

Sophomore Jennifer Song and senior Belen Mozo tied a USC record as the No. 9 women’s golf team took the lead after the first day of the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge.

Going it alone · Freshman Cyna Rodriguez is playing as an individual entrant at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes, Calif. Rodriguez shot a 3-over-par 74 in Monday’s first round action. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

Song shot a 4-under-par 67 to take the day-one lead, and Mozo followed with a 2-under 69 for her lowest round of the year. Both teammates tied a program record with their 12th career round in the 60s, tying the mark set by former USC golfer Irene Cho. The two All-Americans set the tone for a team looking for its second win of the season without much preparation.

Recent weather has altered the practice schedule of the team, as it prevented them from getting out on the course.

“The course is in fine shape considering all the rain, but we haven’t had a lot of time to play for the same reason,” USC coach Andrea Gaston said.

Song, in only her sixth competitive round for the team this season, posted her fifth score of 67 or below. With only one bogey on the eighth hole, Song tied for the individual lead with Duke’s Lindy Duncan.

“Eight was an easy up and down, but I was a little off there,” Song said.

Mozo started poorly, going 3-over through her first five holes. She bounced back with five birdies in the next 13 holes to post her first score in the 60s of the season. Mozo is tied for third and looks healthy despite the shoulder injury she battled throughout the fall.

“It’s one of those things I think she’s still getting used to, and there’s still some scar tissue, but she seems to be handling it real well,” Gaston said.

Junior Lizette Salas, the third All-American in the lineup this week, overcame a double bogey on the 13th to finish tied for seventh at 1-over 72. Salas, with eight career rounds in the 60s, may soon challenge for the scoring record herself.

Senior Caroline Kim finished tied for 34th at 5-over 76. She stood at even par through 11 holes, but a bogey on 12, double bogey on 13 and a bogey on 14 knocked her down the leaderboard.

Sophomore Inah Park tied for 49th with a 7-over 78. Consecutive birdies on 11 and 12 weren’t enough for Park to overcome the double bogeys on three and seven.

Taking full advantage of the location of the Challenge, the Women of Troy also entered freshman Cyna Rodriguez and senior Stefanie Endstrasser as individuals. Rodriguez finished in a tie for 21st with her 3-over 74. Endstrasser shot a 6-over 77 to finish tied for 39th.

The Women of Troy enter the second day of the challenge with an eight-stroke lead over No. 6 Duke. Play today begins at 8:30 a.m., in a shotgun format, as rain is expected.

“It could be arriving at about        1 [p.m.] tomorrow, so they’re trying to get us all out and get in 18 holes without too much rain,” Gaston said.

Though hoping to avoid the rain, the team is preparing for the worst.

“We’re going to take umbrellas and two pairs of shoes and gloves, so we can exchange them when they get wet,” Gaston said.

Barring any delays from the rain, the tournament finishes Wednesday.