Strong finishes from the two most experienced members of the No. 1 USC women’s golf team led to a third- place finish at the 2010 Texas A&M Fall Preview.
The season-opening tournament, held at the Traditions Golf Club in College Station, Texas — the site of the women’s 2011 NCAA championship tournament — featured a revamped lineup for the Women of Troy, a team that has had to replace three of five starters. With only senior Lizette Salas and sophomore Cyna Rodriguez returning from last year’s NCAA runner-up roster, the Women of Troy needed their three new members to immediately contribute.
Their contributions led to a team score of 8-under-par 856 (289-282-285), seven strokes back from No. 4 Alabama at 15-under-par 849 (286-280-283) and six strokes behind No. 16 LSU at 14-under-par 850 (287-283-280).
“Obviously, I wish that we could go in and win,” USC coach Andrea Gaston said. “I think it gave us a nice opportunity to acclimate and bring new players into the lineup.”
The team was led by three-time All-American Salas, who finished third at 6-under-par 210 (70-70-70). Salas played consistently well throughout the tournament, as evidenced by her consecutive rounds of 70, but perhaps never better than her two birdie, 16-par final round. Her consistency will be counted on by Gaston this year to lead a talented but young roster.
One shot behind Salas was junior transfer Lisa McCloskey at 5-under-par 211 (74-70-67), whose final round was the team’s strongest of the tournament. McCloskey’s final round shot her up the leaderboard to a fourth-place finish. The two-time All-American at Pepperdine had a final round of five birdies, 13 pars and no bogeys in her first tournament for USC. A pair of top-10 finishes is a nice start to the season for the two oldest members of the Women of Troy, who will be counted on to fill the void left by last season’s departures.
Freshman Rachel Morris tied for 18th at even-par 216 (73-72-71). Morris improved every round of her collegiate debut and finished with a birdie on the final hole of the tournament.
“Rachel played great,” Salas said. “She came in the top 20, which is really good for a first tournament.”
Sophomore Cyna Rodriguez slipped after a promising start to the tournament to tie for 30th at 4-over-par 220 (72-74-80). She took a quadruple bogey on the sixth hole of the final round and never quite recovered. Rounding out the Women of Troy was freshman Sophia Popov, also making her collegiate debut. Popov tied for 67th at 12-over-par 228 (75-76-77).
Overall, Gaston said she was pleased with the early season performance of the team, especially the new members.
“I certainly felt like there were a lot of good things that happened this week,” she said. “But we always come away feeling like we could do better than how we finished.”
For the team, that means constant competition for spots as it looks to improve on its third-place finish. With junior Inah Park, also a member of last year’s NCAA runner-up roster looking to return to the competitive roster for the tournament no roster spot is safe. “We’ll continue to work hard and more than anything try and identify any of our weaknesses and try to get better throughout the season,” Gaston said.
The Women of Troy resume competitive play Sept. 24 at the Mason Rudolph Women’s Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Golf Club in Nashville, Tenn.