Unusual scoring led to unusual results for the USC men’s golf team on Monday afternoon, as the team finished deadlocked in a tie with crosstown rival UCLA. The No. 23 Trojans, coming off of their second runner-up finish of the season at the Jones Invitational, met the No. 22 Bruins in a one-day match play event.
Action consisted of eight players from each team clashing in one-on-one rounds of 18 holes, with each head-to-head victory resulting in a team point. Points were also awarded to the player with the lowest score on the front and back nines, allowing for three points to be earned in each match. Fittingly for such evenly matched squads, the Trojans and Bruins split the 24 available points at Valley Golf Club in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Though the match was an exhibition and will not count toward either team’s overall record, USC head coach Chris Zambri still felt unsatisfied with the results.
“We ended up tying the match, so it wasn’t the outcome that either team was looking for,” Zambri said. “Some of our guys played well, some didn’t.”
One Trojan who did play well was junior Anthony Paolucci, who won his first collegiate tournament at the Jones Invitational last week. Playing in the competitive No. 1 slot, Paolucci took two of three points from his opponent.
Other winners for USC included All-American senior Jeffrey Kang, who scored a 2-1 victory in the No. 3 slot. Junior Paul Smith scored USC’s biggest win, taking 2.5 points at No. 4. Senior Ramsey Sahyoun also picked up a 2-1 win.
Freshman Rico Hoey, playing at No. 2, tied his opponent with 1.5 points apiece. The Trojans’ other players, junior Eric Sugimoto, sophomore Bobby Gojuangco and freshman Danny Ochoa, took losses.
Though the results did not end up quite how he had hoped, Zambri admitted that exhibition matches, especially against a rival such as UCLA, are worthwhile.
“It was a very fun day at a beautiful golf course,” Zambri said. “The kids are lucky to be able to do things like we did today. It was a great experience.”
USC and UCLA have historically met in match play at different points throughout the season, though this was the first year the format expanded to eight players per team. Last year the two teams met at Bel Air Country Club late in the season as a tune-up for the Pac-12 Championships. Unsurprisingly, that match also ended in a tie.
This year’s contest was designed to keep both teams sharp before tournament action picks up again. The Trojans will head to the San Diego Classic at the San Diego Country Club beginning next Monday, while the Bruins tee off in the Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas over the weekend. Action in both events can be followed live at golfstat.com.