Women of Troy compete at Allstate Sugar Bowl

The USC women’s golf team, seeking its first tournament win of the year, extended its lead to four strokes after two days of play in the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Golf Championship.

The tournament, held at the English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans, is hosted by Tulane University and features 15 teams, including Pac-12 rivals Oregon and Colorado. The Women of Troy are the defending champions of the event, having won by four strokes over top-seeded Alabama in 2011.

Leading the field · Sophomore Sophia Popov is tied for 10th place at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Golf Championship at three over par. The Women of Troy currently lead the tournament by four strokes. - Photo courtesy of Sports Information

The Women of Troy have received strong performances from senior Lisa McCloskey and freshman Doris Chen, both of whom are in the running for the individual lead. McCloskey is currently second at 2-under 142, striking 1-under 71 in each round, while Chen is third at 1-under 143. McCloskey buried three birdies in the first five holes and finished with four overall, while Chen notched three birdies.

Sophomore Sophia Popov overcame a rough start to birdie five of the final 10 holes, coming in tied for 10th at 3-over 147. Senior Inah Park is tied for 43rd at 9-over 153, while sophomore Rachel Morris is tied for 60th at 14-over 158.

The Trojans opened the spring season with a resounding second-place finish at the Northrop Challenge, finishing at 30-over 882, behind only UCLA.The competition, which marked the team’s highest finish this year, also featured a strong performance by Popov, whose fall season was cut short after a wrist injury during the Stanford Intercollegiate Tournament in late October. Popov rebounded to finish second overall at 1-over 214, including an impressive final round in which she notched seven birdies and a score of 4-under 67.

The tournament featured a consistent effort from all golfers. Chen, a highly touted recruit and former U.S. Junior Champion, recorded her best standing, finishing 10th at 8-over 221 to overcome a rough final round. Park recorded her third top 20 finish, coming in tied for 16th at 9-over 222.

McCloskey finished tied for 23rd at 12-over 225 after remaining in top-10 contention the first two days. Morris finished at 18-over 231, tied for 46th. Though rain and gloomy conditions hindered performance and created considerable struggle on the final day, the Women of Troy maintained their second place standing from the previous two rounds, largely because of Popov’s stellar work.

The Women of Troy have been working hard to replicate the success of their 2010-2011 campaign, in which they captured their fifth Top-5 NCAA finish in the last seven seasons. Even more impressive, they won four tournaments, including the 2011 Pac-10 championship and 2011 NCAA West Regional. Victories have been hard to come by, but the Women of Troy are maintaining confidence.

“Our main goal is to win the event as a team and just try to play a solid tournament individually,” said Popov. “We just need to try to keep the momentum going.”

Following the tournament, the Women of Troy will have three weeks off before continuing their season with the Battle at Rancho Bernardo March 18-20.