No. 1 USC set to finish off regular season

The No. 1-ranked women’s golf team will look to remain on top as they head to the PING/ASU Invitational — an event they have won twice in the past — running this Friday through Sunday. This is the final regular season event for USC.

The Invitational, hosted by Arizona State, will be held in Tempe, Arizona at the ASU Karsten Golf Course. This invitational boasts one of the most highly ranked 15-team fields that the Women of Troy have joined this season.

Of the 15 teams, six are representing the Pac-12 — No. 1 USC, No. 2 Washington, No. 3 UCLA, No. 8 Arizona, No. 17 Stanford and host No. 25 ASU. Other schools at the invitational include No. 4 South Carolina, No. 5 Duke, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 16 UNLV, No. 21 San Diego State, No. 27 Baylor, No. 29 Alabama and No. 59 Oklahoma.

Of the 14 other schools, only Baylor, Washington and Duke have bested the Women of Troy with a first place finish in the 2015 season. In their five events this spring, USC has won two and finished second in the other three. On the entire season, the Women of Troy have a total of four wins and seven top-2 finishes.

Beginning bright and early at 8 a.m. on Friday, senior Doris Chen — in her spring debut — junior Annie Park, juniors Karen Chung and Gabriella Then and freshman Amy Lee will take to the course to try and stretch their three-win streak to four.

In the team’s last event, junior Kyung Kim, Park and Lee led USC to a thrilling tiebreaker victory over host Georgia at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic.

Earlier this year, the Women of Troy captured their third victory at the Arizona Wildcats Invitational over host Arizona. Chung secured her second career collegiate crown with her first top-10 finish of the season. With an under-11 finish, Chung was the first Trojan to finish in the double-digits this season. Her victory made her the third Trojan this season to win a tournament; Park, a two-time All-American, and Then won earlier in the season.

At the Arizona tournament, USC captured victory with a 30-under 834 (280, 271, 283) performance. The Women of Troy’s showing in the second round earned them a school-record on a par 72 course of 17-under — the second-lowest total in school history.

If they can continue to play at that high of a level, they will capture their second title at an invitational in the Arizona desert.

The current success for the Women of Troy is nothing out of the ordinary for these ladies. Of the team’s past 25 outings, USC has taken the top spot in 16 outings, 19 of 29 and 20 0f 31, the first win coming from the           fall of 2012.

While the Women of Troy are no strangers from winning as a team, they are more than familiar with victory individually. Both Park and Chen are NCAA individual champions: Park captured her title in 2013, and Chen captured hers in 2014.

Chen will be looking to close out her senior regular season with a big finish. As a three-time All-American and 2012 Pac-12 individual champion, she had had a vital impact on the Women of Troy’s success on the course. In 2013, she was key in clinching USC’s NCAA championship — USC’s third title in program history.

As this season’s closure draws near, the Women of Troy have their sights set on post-season play. First come the Pac-12 Championships, then the NCAA Regional Championship and lastly, the NCAA Championships.

Sitting at No. 1 in the nation, if the Women of Troy continue to top other teams out on the course, they are on the right path to make it back to the NCAA Championships.

A trip to the championships will avenge their two-stroke loss to Duke last year when they just missed out on a second-straight national title and fourth in program history.

Before any of that can happen though, the Women of Troy will have to continue to be efficient out on the course to capture their fourth win in a row this season and garner momentum as they head into the postseason.