USC has solid first day at Fall Preview

The No. 1 women’s golf team wasted no time introducing its much-heralded recruiting class to NCAA competition.

The Women of Troy began their season Monday at the 2010 Texas A&M Fall Preview at the Traditions Golf Club in College Station, Texas. The team hit a collective 1-over-par 289, putting the team in fifth place  and 12 strokes behind No. 13 Georgia.

Setting up · Senior Lizette Salas had a strong first round at the 2010 Texas A&M Fall Preview, shooting a two-under-par 70 to finish in ninth place. The Women of Troy, who are currently in fifth place overall, have two more days of competition in Texas. - Courtesy of USC Sports Information

Freshmen Rachel Morris and Sophia Poppov made their collegiate debuts, and junior transfer Lisa McCloskey, a two-time All-American at Pepperdine, made her USC debut. All three finished in the top 40 on day one.

Even with the influx of new talent on the roster, it was the two returning members that paced the team on the first day.

Senior Lizette Salas finished the day with a 2-under-par 70, enough to land her in ninth place and five strokes off the lead. A solid back nine with two birdies gave Salas the team’s only under-par score for the day.

Sophomore Cyna Rodriguez, the only other returning member from last year’s NCAA runner-up squad, is tied for 18th after shooting an even par 72. Rodriguez also finished 2-under on the back to make up for a front nine that included three bogeys.

Morris finished one stroke back of Rodriguez at 1-over-par 73. Her three birdies nearly offset four bogeys and tied her for 21st.

One stroke behind Morris is McCloskey at 2-over-par 74. She had one birdie against three bogeys to tie for 30th.

Popov is one stroke behind McCloskey at 3-over-par 75, in a tie for 40th.

“We played pretty solid, but not our best. I was pleased overall, because I like to see all five players in it and with a chance to count,” said USC coach Andrea Gaston, referring to the NCAA rule that a team can only take the four top scores on the five-person team.

The Fall Preview is used to give teams a look at the course that will host the NCAA Championship in May. A tropical storm last week left the area more damp than usual this week, and as a result the course remained extremely hot and humid.

“The heat is pretty oppressive,” Gaston said. “But the conditions are softer, and I feel like it’s playing easier than usual. One thing I know about Texas is that a little wind can change everything.”

The team has two more rounds today and Wednesday.