After 36 holes of play at the SDSU Farms Invitational in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the No. 1 USC women’s golf team trailed crosstown rival No. 2 UCLA by eight strokes. With much to prove heading into yesterday’s final 18 holes, the Women of Troy gave it their all, winning the tournament by three strokes. Leading after two rounds, the Bruins posted a team score of 5-over par allowing the Women of Troy to claim the title with a 3-under 861 final score.
Freshman Karen Chung continued her stretch of impressive play for USC, shooting a 7-under 29 on the front nine yesterday. She began with a two-shot eagle on the par 4 first hole, followed by five birdies over the next eight holes. Junior Doris Chen had the second-best effort for the Women of Troy on the final day with a 2-under 70, trailing Chung by 4 who finished with a 6-under 66.
Clearly, the Women of Troy figured out how to correct their mistakes made during Monday’s first round. After just 18 holes, the USC women’s golf team trailed the Bruins by 13 strokes. USC head coach Andrea Gaston remained calm, however, and said she knew that her team had plenty of golf left to play over the remaining 36 holes.
“We were very surprised by our performance yesterday,” Gaston said on Tuesday. “We made some unfortunate course management mistakes that cost us a lot of shots. Today we made more birdies and played the par 5’s a lot better than yesterday.”
Though Gaston was pleased with her team’s second round comeback, yesterday’s third round effort was arguably even more impressive. With its 6-under score, USC was the only school to record a team score under par on the day, as No. 9 Stanford and No. 2 UCLA recorded 1-over par and 5-over par third rounds, respectively.
Both Stanford and UCLA finished in a tie for second place at even-par for the tournament, and fellow Pac-12 rival No. 4 Arizona State finished in fourth. Though the Sun Devils ensured that Pac-12 teams claimed the top four spots, the real competition in this tournament only involved the Women of Troy, the Bruins and the Cardinal. Though only three strokes separated USC from the two second place finishers, the Sun Devils finished in fourth place at 17-over par, 14 strokes behind the Bruins and Cardinal.
Yesterday’s win is USC’s seventh in eight attempts this season and ties the school season record set last year, with many tournaments still to come. As defending national champions they are officially on a roll, winning both of their tournaments this month. The Women of Troy have just one week before they battle the nation’s best at the Liz Murphy Invitational in Athens, Ga. The winning formula for USC combines a tight knit group of golfers playing well as a team, as well as the potential for individual competitors to make a difference in any round of any tournament.