Women of Troy begin Wildcat Invitational

The No. 5 USC women’s golf team looks to build its spring season momentum this week at the Wildcat Invitational at the Arizona National Golf Club in Tuscon, Ariz.

USC enters the Wildcat Invitational having won the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge less than two weeks ago, hoping build additional confidence.

“It feels good to win,” sophomore Jennifer Song said. “But we know it’s just the beginning.”

The tournament features strong competition, with eleven of the top 25 teams in the nation attending. The Women of Troy will see Pac-10 rivals, including No. 1 Arizona State, as well as some teams from the farther away regions of the country.

“We’re playing some teams like Auburn [No. 3], Tennessee [No. 6] and Oklahoma State [No. 19],” said USC coach Andrea Gaston. “I feel like the competition will be a little more difficult.”

Song, the No. 1 golfer in the nation, leads the team this week as she enters just her fourth tournament of the year. In the team’s last victory, Song finished second overall. Given her individual victories in her first two tournaments of the season, second place was her worst finish of the season. She’s looking to return to the winner’s circle this week.

“Every tournament I play, I play it to win as a team and as an individual,” Song said.

This week, Song will be seeking a school record for career rounds in the 60’s. One more round in the 60’s will give her 13 for her career, surpassing the USC record currently held by Irene Cho, who graduated in 2006, and senior Belen Mozo.

Junior Lizette Salas enters the Wildcat Invitational seeking her second individual win of the season. Salas, a two-time All American, is fully recovered from a back injury that plagued her through the summer and into the fall. She finished fifth at the Northrop Grumman, and looks to top that this week.

Mozo, a three-time All-American, struggled with injuries throughout the fall, but appears ready to threaten at every tournament again. She returned for the spring with a tie for 12th at the Northrop Grumman, her best finish of the season so far. She, like Song, can set a school record with a round in the 60’s this week.

Rounding out the top five for the Women of Troy are senior Caroline Kim and sophomore Inah Park. They are the only two members of the team to play in every tournament this season, and both turned in solid performances to begin the spring season.

The Women of Troy know the victory at the Northrop Grumman gives them additional confidence, but it also puts a target on their backs.

“The other teams want to win too, so they’ll be working twice as hard,” Song said. “We can’t take anything for granted.”