The USC men’s golf team finished a strong fifth at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, defying any doubts set by its first outing, the Ping/Golfweek Fall Preview.
Led by freshman Jeffery Kang and sophomore T.J. Vogel, the Trojans finished at 38-over-par 878 (287, 299, 292), landing them 14 strokes back from the winning Oklahoma State team on one of the toughest courses they will face all year.
Kang and Vogel tied for fourth in individual scoring, at 5-over-par 215.
Sophomore Martin Trainer said he was impressed by both teammates.
“[Vogel] is very good,” Trainer said. “This will be a typical finish for him, top 10 almost every tournament. [Kang] we all knew was really good, and very impressive in practice. He surprised us these past couple of days, and I’m glad to see it”
Kang had an impressive final round, shooting a 1-over-par 71 to elevate himself from seventh place.
He had a turbulent first nine holes, shooting two bogeys, one double bogey, a birdie and the team’s only eagle of the tournament. On the second nine, he hit for one bogey and one birdie.
On Monday, Kang had a solid first round, shooting for 3-over-par 73, with three birdies, four bogeys, and a double bogey. In the next round (which took place later Monday), Kang came back even stronger, hitting a 1-over-par 71 with three birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.
On Tuesday, Vogel shot a 3-over-par 73, bumping him up from fifth place to fourth. He hit four bogeys and one birdie on the day.
On Monday, Vogel had a dominant first round, hitting a team low 2-under-par 68 with five birdies and three bogeys. In round two, Vogel hit for 4-over-par 74, with one birdie, three bogeys and a double bogey.
Third for the Trojans was Trainer, who finished tied for 26th with a 14-over-par 224.
Trainer overcame a tough first day to hit a stellar 2-over-par 72, elevating himself 10 places. On Monday, Trainer shot a 4-over-par 74 and an 8-over-par 78, and sat in 36th place.
Sophomore Stewart Hagestad hit a 6-over-par 76, with five bogeys, one double bogey and a birdie. This left him in 35th place, following a tough first day where he shot a 4-over-par 74 and a 7-over-par 77.
Rounding out the Trojan squad was junior Steve Lim, who hit a 10-over-par 80 to finish tied for 39th.
On Monday, Lim had a mediocre second round (7-over-par 77) following a strong first round where he hit for 2-over-par 72. Lim missed the last tournament because of a family conflict.
These results are a complete turnaround from the Trojan’s last outing, the Ping/Golfweek Fall Preview. The Trojans finished their first tournament with a disappointing last-place finish in a field of 15, hitting 84 strokes over par.
The progress reminds Trainer of last season, and he remains optimistic.
“Last year we were weak at the start of the year, and by the end we were one of the strongest teams out there,” Trainer said. “Hopefully this rate of improvement keeps up. We hung in there and did well. ”
The Trojan’s next outing is against Georgia Tech at the The Golf Club of Georgia on Oct. 24-26.