USC finishes third at Allstate Sugar Bowl

After a strong start that saw them take the lead through two days of play, the No. 4 USC women’s golf team could not close out the victory, nonetheless turning in a solid performance and finishing third at the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate in New Orleans Tuesday.

Close loss ·Sophomore Sophia Popov could not help the Women of Troy hold a lead at the Allstate Sugar Bowl. USC had a four-stroke lead Monday. - Photo courtesy of USC Sports Information

After leading by four strokes heading into the final round, the Women of Troy concluded play with a score of 17-over 881. Duke overcame a four-stroke deficit to win the tournament at 13-over 877, while Colorado came in second at 16-over 880.

Following a resounding opening tournament at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, in which they finished second, the Trojans were determined to capture their first victory of the season. They jumped out to a quick start Sunday, recording a score of 5-over 293 to maintain small leads over Oregon and Duke. Senior Lisa McCloskey and freshman Doris Chen led the way, with McCloskey firing a 1-under 71 and Chen shooting even-par 72 to stake the Trojans to the early lead. McCloskey recorded four birdies, including two on the back nine, while Chen notched three. Sophomore Sophia Popov shot 2-over 74, going 1-over on the front and back nines, while senior Inah Park shot a 4-over 76 and sophomore Rachel Morris finished at 7-over 79.

The Women of Troy extended their lead Monday, shooting a 4-over 292 for an overall score of 585. Both McCloskey and Chen shot 1-under 71 and combined for seven birdies to place second and third, respectively. Popov overcame a rough start to birdie five of her final 10 holes, coming in tied for 14th at 3-over 147. Morris matched her score to hit 14-over 158, while Park shot a 5-over 77 to end two rounds tied for 43rd.

The Trojans gave up considerable ground Tuesday, surrendering their lead amid difficult conditions. McCloskey maintained her score from the previous two rounds, once again firing 1-under 71 to finish third overall. The tournament marked the fourth top-10 finish in five tournaments for McCloskey, who finished two back of Colorado’s Alex Stewart. Chen recorded her second consecutive top-10 finish, notching two birdies and finishing seventh at 1-over 217. Popov finished tied for 16th at 6-over 222 and Park tied for 46th at 13-over 229, while Morris tied for 61st at 20-over 236.

Though the tournament marked the team’s second consecutive top-three finish, the Women of Troy weren’t particularly happy about the outcome.

“I had a good tournament considering the course and conditions were difficult,” McCloskey said. “For me, it was a rather poor finish and unfortunately, we’re not quite happy with the third place.”

The Women of Troy will next participate March 18-20 in the Battle at Rancho Bernardo, hosted by San Diego State.