USC holds onto slight lead despite rain

The second day of the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge found the No. 9 USC women’s golf team clinging to a two stroke lead entering the final day. The Women of Troy began Tuesday’s round with an eight stroke lead over No. 7 Duke, but finished it just two ahead of No. 13 Pepperdine.

The Women of Troy turned in the second-best team effort of the day, only to see Pepperdine’s charge reduce their lead dramatically. The teams battled windy, rainy conditions all morning and into the afternoon.

Over par · Senior Belen Mozo dropped into a tie for eighth place at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge with a second-day score of 79. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

“We got rained on pretty hard, so everyone kind of struggled,” said sophomore Jennifer Song. An hour-and-a-half-long delay disrupted play in the afternoon, as staff swept water off the greens.

“We started at 8:30 [a.m.], and we only had one hole left,” Song said of the break. “We didn’t get back out ’til 3 [p.m.], so it was a really long day.”

Song leads the team at even-par 142 (67-75). Her second-round 75 is her highest score of the season, having previously kept all her scores under 71. Song was leading after day one and is now tied for third, four strokes behind Pepperdine’s Lisa McCloskey. Song began the second day with nine straight pars, but three bogeys and a double bogey on the back nine knocked her from the top of the leaderboard.

“My shots were terrible today,” Song said. “Even when I had good chips, I couldn’t finish them because my putting was so bad.”

Junior Lizette Salas moved from eighth place to tie for seventh after a 2-over-par 73 put her at 3-over-par 145 (72-73) for the tournament. Salas, who tied senior Caroline Kim for the lowest score on the team, was consistent throughout the round, with 14 pars, three bogeys and a birdie.

Senior Belen Mozo dropped into a tie for 15th at 6-over-par 148 (69-79). Mozo struggled in the rainy conditions and never found her footing a day after her lowest round of the season.

Kim turned in a 2-over-par 73 that included five bogeys and three birdies. She rose from a tie for 34th to a tie for 20th at 7-over-par 149 (76-73). Kim is in position for her lowest finish of the season, four spots below her tie for 30th at the Mason Rudolph Championship last September.

Sophomore Inah Park finished with six straight pars and sits in a tie for 37th at 11-over 153 (78-75).

Along with the team’s five scoring members, freshman Cyna Rodriguez and senior Stefanie Endstrasser are playing as individuals. After both firing 11-over-par 82’s today, Rodriguez is tied for 52nd at 14-over-par 156 (74-82), and Endstrasser is tied for 65th at 17-over-par 159 (77-82).

The Women of Troy are poised to earn their first victory in the 15-year history of the challenge. Rain is not in the forecast for tomorrow, which should mean lower scores overall. Only six of 15 teams improved their score on the second, rain-filled day of play.

The final round begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday.