No. 9 USC looks for fourth win up north at Stanford

The No. 9 USC men’s golf team is heading to Stanford to try and grab its fourth win of the season at The Goodwin, which runs today through Saturday.

Sophomore Rico Hoey and freshman Sean Crocker will lead the Trojans as they take on a field composed of 22 other schools, with five from the Pac-12 — host and defending champion Stanford, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and Washington State.

The event kicked off for the Trojans at 7:30 a.m. this morning at the Stanford University Golf Course, a par-70, 6,727-yard course. Over the course of the event, teams will play a total of 54 holes, 18 each day. On Friday, the Trojans start play at 12:15 p.m. The tee times for Saturday will be determined by the team finishes in the first two rounds of play. The last time USC won the event was in 2008; former Trojan Rory Hie took home the individual title as well.

In the Trojans’ last outing, they finished ninth with a 3-over 867 at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters from March 9 through March 11. Crocker led the team with a fifth place individual finish with a 7-under 209 (70, 67, 72) — his third straight top-5 finish.

Crocker has had a fabulous start to his collegiate career. In his first nine outings, he has recorded a team-best 15 rounds in the 60s. He is currently ranked No. 5 in the 2015 Palmer Cup rankings. In June, the top six golfers from the United States and Europe  in the final rankings will make up part of the 10 golfers chosen to participate in the Palmer Cup from June 12 through June 14.

Crocker also leads the team in stroke average (69.81). In the last three outings, Crocker was the Trojans’ top finisher — something he’s done five times this season.

Hoey has the team’s second-lowest stroke average at 70.38 and has shot 11 rounds in the 60s. An All-American in 2014, Hoey has five top-five finishes this season, his best coming at the Bill Cullum Invitational, where he finished second with a 12-under 204 (65, 67, 72).

In the first watch list for the 2015 Ben Hogan Award — presented to the nation’s top men’s collegiate golfer from the NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA or NJCAA — Hoey was one of 24 NCAA golfers chosen. Notably, Hoey is one of only seven underclassmen on the list.

The other starters for the Trojans consist of seniors Paul Smith and Eric Sugimoto, junior Bobby Gojuangco and freshman Jonah Texeira.

Smith’s season-best was a tie for third at the Gifford  Collegiate-CordeValle with a 7-under 206 (67, 73, 66). He has had two other top 21 finishes.

Sugimoto has put up two     top-15 finishes, his best being a tie for ninth at the Southwestern Intercollegiate with a 3-over 216 (72, 76, 68).

Gojuangco’s best finish of the season was a tie for seventh at the Bill Cullum Invitational with a 5-under 211 (68, 71, 72).

Texeira, similar to Crocker, is having a great collegiate debut. With a stroke average of 71.89, he is third on the team. At the Bill Cullum Invitational, Texeira recorded an 11-under 205 (67, 66, 72) to finish third.

Together the team will look to top their ninth place finish at their previous outing.