Women of Troy complete wire-to-wire victory

The No. 9 USC women’s golf team began its spring season the same way it began its fall season, by picking up its second win of the 2009-2010 season with a three-stroke victory over No. 13 Pepperdine at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge.

Rough start · Sophomore Jennifer Song started her final round 5-over-par through six holes but was able to rebound over her next 12 holes, shooting 4-under-par to close out her round at 1-under-par. Song finished tied for second among individual scores. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

The Women of Troy finished at 24-over-par 876 (284-296-296) at the Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, Calif.

They led every day for a wire-to-wire victory, their first win since the Mason Rudolph Championship in September 2009 and their first such win since the 2008 NCAA championship.

The Women of Troy placed three golfers in the top 15 on their way to first place, led by sophomore Jennifer Song.

Song, the No. 1 golfer in the country, tied for second at 1-over-par 214 (67-75-72), three strokes behind of Pepperdine’s Lisa McCloskey. After a shaky start of five bogeys through six holes, Song finished with four birdies through the last 12.

“I kind of struggled with the first six, but I started making par and I came back from it,” Song said.

Having won both two tournaments she played in the fall, a tie for second is the worst finish of Song’s season.

“I feel happy about it [finishing second] because I know what I need to work on, and I know that, if I do, I’ll be on the top,” Song said.

Junior Lizette Salas continued her climb up the leaderboard to finish fifth at 5-over-par 217 (72-73-73), making her the only scoring team member to improve her standing in the tournament every round. Her scores remained constant despite a variety of conditions, including heavy rain that caused an hour-and-a-half delay in the second round. At one point in the final round, Salas was 1-under-par, but four bogeys over her last seven holes knocked her back down to fifth.

Senior Belen Mozo bounced back from an uncharacteristic round two to finish tied for 12th at 10-over-par 223 (69-79-75). Mozo saw limited action in the fall because of the lingering effects of a shoulder injury but appears healthy for the spring.

“She hung in there, and she played well,” said USC coach Andrea Gaston. “She knows she has some things to work on.”

Sophomore Inah Park finished tied for 33rd at 16-over-par 229, good for fourth among the Women of Troy. Though she shot even par on the back nine in the final round, five bogeys on the front nine threw her round off. Like her team’s as a whole, Park’s finish is her best since the Mason Rudolph Championship.

Senior Caroline Kim rounded out the team’s scoring members in a tie for 38th at 17-over-par 230 (76-73-81). Kim played consistently throughout the final round until she hit a triple bogey on the first hole. Since tee times were in a shotgun format, Kim started on the fourth hole.

Tied with Kim at 38th was freshman Cyna Rodriguez            (74-82-74). Rodriguez and senior Stefanie Endstrasser played as individuals whose scores did not count toward the overall team score. Endstrasser tied for 54th at 21-over-par 234 (77-82-75).

The Women of Troy will continue their spring season at the Wildcat Invitational in Tuscon, Ariz. on Feb. 22 and 23.

Until then, Gaston is looking forward to “a few days of nice weather.” The recent rain in Los Angeles has prevented the team from going out and playing frequently, and the good weather will be a welcome opportunity to practice.