The USC women’s golf team is holding its own at a talent-heavy Pac-10 championships at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
The Women of Troy sit just one stroke back after the first day of play after getting strong performances from their entire roster.
USC is matched up against five of the top 20 teams in the nation this week, including No. 1 Arizona State and No. 2 UCLA. Another, Oregon, is playing in its own hometown. But make no mistake: the Women of Troy intend to win.
“I think we’re ready to bring another championship home,” said two-time All-American junior Lizette Salas.
Leading the team into the postseason is sophomore Jennifer Song, the No. 2 golfer in the country.
Song, who shot a first round of two-under-par 70, leads the nation in scoring average at 70.63 strokes per round and already has two victories as an individual this year.
If she maintains that average, she will break the school season scoring record that she already holds by .92 strokes. Song will leave USC at the end of the season to turn pro and wants to end her final season as an amateur with an NCAA championship, something she has not yet achieved.
Salas, a junior, was on the NCAA championship-winning team in 2008. That team won its last four events, including all three postseason tournaments.
Salas shot a team-best 3 under par on Monday.
“We expect to play better than we did at [the ASU/PING Invitational], because we left a lot of shots out there,” Salas said “I think we took the wrong approach to certain shots, and we need to be more alert to the type of shot we have to make.”
Salas finished tied for sixth place at ASU and won an individual title at the Turtle Bay classic in Hawaii in November.
Three-time All-American senior Belen Mozo is looking to become the first four-time All-American in USC history. Finally healthy after battling injuries throughout the fall, Mozo shot even par during the first round.
Rounding out USC’s first day was senior Caroline Kim (4-over-par 76) and freshman Cyna Rodriguez (1-over-par 73).
Kim’s final season with the team has been highlighted by a 30th-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Championship in September. Rodriguez’s best tournament was the Bruin Wave, where she finished 15th. Both have fought for a roster spot all season with senior Stefanie Endstrasser and sophomore Inah Park and look to make the most of this postseason opportunity.
The Women of Troy said they are well aware of the expectations that come with their program. The team has finished in the top-seven at the NCAA championships nine times in the last 12 years, including victories in 2003 and 2008.
USC is confident they can continue the tradition of success in Eugene and beyond.
“We all know the course really well,” Salas said. “We’re all really excited about this.”