Early next week, the No. 5 USC women’s golf team heads to Chicago to make its mark at the Windy City Collegiate Classic, while the No. 20-ranked men’s team will participate in the Nike Invitational in Fort Worth, Tex.
Coming off of a strong third place finish at the Annika Intercollegiate tournament last week, the women’s team will be looking for a repeat performance from freshman Malia Nam, who placed second individually behind UCLA sophomore Patty Tavatanakit.
Nam shot 12-under across 54 holes, tying her for the second largest margin in school history.
Three other Trojans finished the event under par with sophomore Jennifer Chang tied for ninth place at 6-under, while junior Allisen Corpuz and sophomore Gabriela Ruffels tied for 21st at 1-under.
First-year coach Justin Silverman will look to Corpuz to be a leader for this team as she is the most senior starter among the squad. Corpuz is coming off a dominant sophomore season after being named an All American by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association.
This tournament should provide another opportunity for Silverman to prove that his team can compete with the other elite programs across the country, after trailing only Alabama and UCLA in last week’s opener by margins of 7 and 5 shots, respectively.
On the men’s side, the squad is coming in hot after a solid showing in their season opener, the Fighting Illini Invitational. The team was able to battle through a sluggish first day, as it was in the eighth spot of the 14 teams heading into day two, but steadily progressed from fourth to an eventual second-place finish.
Three Trojans placed in the top six in the tournament, including junior PING All-American Justin Suh, sophomore Kaito Onishi and freshman Charlie Reiter. In his first start, Reiter proved that he could be a huge contributor to the team going into the future as he finished 4-under 66, helping USC finish at 7-over for the tournament.
In the process of placing second, USC defeated higher ranked opponents like No. 11 California, No. 2 Alabama, No. 16 Illinois and No. 4 Texas A&M.
Look for senior Justin Suh to return to his leadership role this year, who will be able to provide his learned experiences to an up-and-comer like freshman Charlie Reiter. If Reiter can maintain or improve upon the level of play that he displayed in his first performance as a Trojan, he could be a key player for the Trojans.
Both the women’s and men’s teams have already exceeded early expectations. While the women’s team will look to maintain its top-5 spot in the rankings, the men’s team will be coming in as underdogs aiming to take down higher ranked opponents in their upcoming tournament. The Trojans may be overshadowed by top-10 teams such as Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, and Florida, but they can still make an impressive run based on their breakout performance at the past tournament.