Women of Troy take their first shot of the season

The No. 2 USC women’s golf team begins its quest for a NCAA title this weekend at the Mason Rudolph Championship at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.

The purpose of the first tournament of the season for the Women of Troy is “to give everyone some competitive experience,” coach Andrea Gaston said.

With a more experienced team this year, veteran Mason Rudolph will provide the younger players with more competitive practice, while two of the team’s three seniors have the weekend off.

Traveling to Nashville will be sophomore Jennifer Song, junior Lizette Salas, senior Caroline Kim, sophomore Inah Park and freshman Cyna Rodriguez. As individuals, returning first-team All-Americans Song and Salas are ranked first and fifth, respectively.

“I definitely want to get some wins this year,” Song said.

This weekend presents one of the better opportunities this season. Last season, the team finished second, and Song tied for third in what was her debut as a Trojan.

Rodriguez, a highly touted freshman from the Philippines, is making her Trojan debut this week. Gaston expects her to contribute immediately to the team.

“She had a strong summer and played a lot of top amateur events,” Gaston said. “She’s looking forward to our first trip.”

The Women of Troy will get an early season look at some of their top competition for the national title. The field includes 13 top-25 teams, including No. 1 Arizona State, No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Oklahoma State.

“We definitely know we’re going to see a lot of competition with the Pac-10, especially from Arizona State and UCLA,” Gaston said. “All of our fall tournaments have really strong fields.”

The strong competition will give the younger players the experience they need for the team to be able to “count on every player,” Gaston said.

The tournament takes place Friday through Sunday.