The USC women’s golf team, coming off an eighth-place finish at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview in Nashville, Tenn., looks to notch its first tournament win as it competes in the Stanford Invitational this weekend in Palo Alto, Calif. The tournament, held Friday through Sunday at Stanford Golf Course, features 16 teams, including crosstown rival and Fall Preview winner UCLA.
The Women of Troy started strong to open the season, finishing tied for first after the first day of play in the Fall Preview tournament. The squad, however, struggled to maintain the first-day performance, eventually slipping to eighth place with an overall score of 24-over 888, 15 strokes behind the Bruins.
USC was spearheaded by the efforts of senior Lisa McCloskey and sophomore Sophia Popov. Both channeled strong starts into dual eighth-place finishes at 2-over 218, six strokes off the lead. Sophomore Rachel Morris, who struggled to a score of 80 on the tournament’s first day, rebounded nicely to finish tied for 52nd at 13-over 229. Highly touted freshman Kristen Park debuted with a solid 73 on the opening day and finished tied for 57th at 14-over 230, and senior Inah Park finished 15-over 231 and tied for 62nd.
The three-week break between tournaments has served as a boon for the Women of Troy, who used the downtime to practice extensively for the upcoming tournament. Though the results were disappointing, confidence has not been shattered by the team’s performance in the Fall Preview.
“We didn’t play well as a team, and we didn’t get the results we wanted,” Popov said. “However, we have been working hard in practice to improve upon our weaknesses, and we feel that it should pay off this weekend.”
As Popov noted, the main focus heading into the tournament is consistency. The team recorded a strong start and built an early lead in the Fall Preview, but faltered in the succeeding rounds. The second round was especially troublesome, as only Morris (80 to 75) saw a score improvement from the first round.
This, however, doesn’t faze the Women of Troy.
“We’ve had so much time to practice, and we’ve all worked to add consistency to our individual games,” Popov said. “Also, we have confidence in ourselves as a team. We’re returning four players and have two great freshmen, so our expectations are obviously high. However, we know what we’re capable of, and after our strong season last year, we know that we have the ability to do well and hopefully we can get some tournament wins.”