Women of Troy ready for NCAA championships

The USC women’s golf team will compete in Indiana from May 6 to 8 in an attempt to qualify for its 13th consecutive NCAA championship appearance.

The team must place in the top eight at the NCAA Championships Central Regional at the Otter Creek Golf Course in Columbia, Ind., in order to advance. In the last four years, the No. 4 Women of Troy have had three victories and a third place finish at their regional competition, and they look to continue that streak of success this year.

Leader · Sophomore Jennifer Song’s amateur career is coming to a close as the Women of Troy attempt to qualify for the NCAA championships. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

Leading the team is sophomore Jennifer Song, the No. 2 golfer in the country, who was named to the All-Pac-10 first team last week. Song finished third at last week’s Pac-10 championship and is looking to close her college career with a national championship. Song plans to turn pro after the season.

She is on pace to break her own USC record for single season scoring average, shooting more than half a stroke better than she did as a freshman, and she already holds the USC record for most career rounds in the 60s, with 14. Song has six top-10 finishes in seven tournaments this year, as well as two victories. She said she thinks that she is in good shape to compete this week.

“Putting and short game-wise, I’ve never been better,” Song said.

Junior Lizette Salas, who was also named to the All-Pac-10 first team, has had four top-six finishes this season. Salas, the No. 16 golfer in the country, is looking for her second victory of the season this week on the way to the national championship.

Senior Belen Mozo, who was named to the Pac-10 honorable mention team, is competing in her fourth and final NCAA regional tournament. Having been a part of two previous regional victories and last season’s third place finish, Mozo is well aware of the pressure on the team but thinks the team is ready.

“We need these ups and downs, and last week’s [ fourth place] finish at the Pac-10 championships was definitely a down, because then we practice things we don’t when we win” Mozo said.

Freshman Cyna Rodriguez is competing in her first regional tournament. She was also named to the honorable mention All-Pac-10 team in her first season at USC, and looks to continue contributing throughout the remainder of the postseason, having had her best finish of the season at the Pac-10 championships.

Rounding out the Women of Troy’s roster this week is sophomore Inah Park. Though she has not competed since the Bruin Wave Invitational in early March, she earned the roster spot over seniors Caroline Kim and Stefanie Endstrasser through competitions in practice.

Though the Women of Troy have to travel to their regional, they’ll be hitting familiar competition. Joining USC in Indiana is No. 2 Arizona State, whom the Women of Troy have battled all year, No. 7 Purdue, No. 13 Michigan State, No. 14 Georgia and No. 16 Denver.

“I think it’ll be a good regional,” said USC coach Andrea Gaston. “The second tier of teams there is strong.”

With a top-eight finish out of 24, the Women of Troy will advance to the NCAA national championship tournament, held at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C., for the chance to compete for their third national title in a decade.