The No. 13 USC men’s golf team got off to a rough start Sunday at the Ping/Golfweek Fall Preview in Stillwater, Okla., but managed to pull it together for the second day of competition.
After shooting a 43-over-par 331 on Sunday — enough to place the Trojans last in a competitive 15-team field — the entire team saw drastic improvement Monday. The team shot a 17-over-par 305 — 26 strokes fewer than day one.
Still, the Trojans remain in 15th place in the tournament at a 60-over-par 636, seven strokes behind 14th place Texas Christian University and 52 behind first place Oklahoma State.
After being forced to withdraw from the competition with hip problems on Sunday, sophomore T.J. Vogel came back strong for the Trojans on Monday, leading the team and shooting a 2-over-par 74 with two birdies, despite lingering effects from the injury.
“T.J played very well today even though he was injured,” said sophomore Martin Trainer. “He can barely swing a club.”
Vogel is not eligible for individual ranking because of his withdrawal on Sunday, but a 74 gives him the lowest score of any Trojan at the tournament.
Trainer had a similarly strong day, finishing four strokes less than Sunday at 3-over-par 75, enough to bump him up to 45th place.
“My round, personally, was up and down,” Trainer said. “It was frustrating because I’d have a really good stretch and then a bad stretch. This course is kicking our butts. There was a lot of wind — it was getting up to around 25 miles per hour.”
Trainer’s scorecard shows four birdies in addition to four bogeys and one double bogey.
Sophomore Stewart Hagestad and freshman Jeffery Kang both shot for 6-over-par 78, with Hagestad improving by one stroke (after a 7-over-par 79 on Sunday) and Kang by three (after a 9-over-par 81) to land at 54th and 60th, respectively.
Hagestad played consistently on the first nine, matching all but one of his bogeys with a birdie. He had less luck on the back nine, losing five strokes on two double bogeys and a bogey.
Kang had a much tougher round, hitting one birdie, five bogeys and two double bogeys in the first 17 holes before finally scoring the Trojans’ only eagle on the last hole.
Sophomore Sam Smith, the fourth member of the Trojan contingent, improved his score with a 9-over-par 81, an 11-stroke difference from his 20-over-par 92 performance on Sunday. Smith has sat in 73rd place both rounds.
Despite a tough two rounds, the team remains optimistic.
“We hung tough. We went out and tried our hardest, and put up a couple decent scores,” Trainer said. “We know how talented we are, and that all of us can do a lot better. We look forward to the next round, and the next tournament. This was a wake-up call, and we can finally look at what we need to do to improve.”
The Trojans will compete in round three today, after which they have a two-week break before facing Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.