Though rain initially put a damper on things, the season has finally teed off for the USC men’s golf team.
After being forced to withdraw from the Husky Invitational in Seattle last month because of rain, the Trojans secured a 10th-place finish Tuesday at The Prestige at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. The invitational, which began Sunday, marked the first event they completed this season after its opener was rained out.
The course’s desert environment, however, proved to be a challenging task for an inexperienced Trojans team.
“This was our first event,” USC coach Chris Zambri said. “We go into every event hoping to place first, it was disappointing because we didn’t even come close.”
But the Trojans won’t be subjected to that same desert landscape they encountered at The Prestige for the remainder of the season.
USC finished 10th at 3-under-par with a final score of 861 — 29 strokes behind first-place Oregon, which posted a score of 832 in the 16-team field.
Washington took second at 834, while Stanford finished third with 840.
“It’s a little different around the green, more grainy than we are used to playing on,” Zambri said about the course at PGA West.
Sophomore Ramsey Sahyoun had the second-highest finish for USC, leading it to the final round of The Prestige.
Sahyoun tied for 24th overall at 3-under-par.
On the front nine, Sahyoun’s 1-over-par and three birdies helped nullify the double bogeys.
He completed the back nine with three birdies and finished 2-under-par.
This is the second best finish for Sahyoun — the first coming from his play at Gifford Intercollegiate last season.
But freshman Anthony Paolucci, who made his debut for USC, proved to be the team’s top finisher, tying for 17th overall.
Also playing individually, Paolucci finished 5-under-par.
In his final round, Paolucci, who began on a shotgun start on the 10th hole, had 3-under-par on the front nine, 3-under-par on the back nine and seven birdies total.
Despite a 10th-place-finish, Zambri said the Trojans played well over the course of the three days.
“We had one player shoot a couple rounds under par,” he said. “Another player played three solid rounds and finished well.”
Others opened with solid performances as well.
Junior Sam Smith tied for 39th at The Prestige at 1-over-par. Fellow junior Martin Trainer tied for 49th at 3-over-par. Sophomore Jeffrey Kang tied for 55th at 4-over-par. Senior Steve Lim tied for 64th 8-over-par.
The team hopes to take their experience from The Prestige and continue to improve over the course of the upcoming months of the season.
As Zambri discussed the need to work on better ball control and manageable targets, the Trojans will head east later this month to Alpharetta, Ga., on Oct. 23 to compete in the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
The event will be hosted by Georgia Tech.