Women of Troy tie for fifth at weekend invitational

Following its first tournament victory of the season, the USC women’s golf team was unable to replicate its success this weekend, finishing tied for fifth place on Sunday at the PING/ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.

Rival UCLA won the tournament by a commanding 12 strokes, finishing with an overall score of 5-over 857. Host Arizona State finished second at 17-over 869, while Texas A&M finished third at 21-over 873. The Women of Troy, ranked third in the nation, tied with UC Davis at 29-over 881.

“The finish is disappointing, especially considering the fact that we won the last tournament,” sophomore Sophia Popov said.

The team started slowly Friday, coming in tied for seventh at 289 after the first round. Senior Inah Park, who has notched two Top-16 finishes in her last three tournaments, shot par 71 to lead the Women of Troy at 13th. Rising freshman Doris Chen, coming off three consecutive Top 10 finishes, tied for 22nd at 1-over 72 with the help of two birdies on the front nine. Sophomore Sophia Popov and senior Lisa McCloskey each recorded three birdies and shot 2-over 73 to tie for 37th. Sophomore Rachel Morris tied for 69th at 6-over 77.

The final two rounds proved troublesome for the Women of Troy, who were unable to crack the top 3. After slipping to 3-over 74 on the second round, McCloskey surged to 2-under 69 Sunday, finishing 10th overall at 216. Chen maintained her consistency, shooting 2-over 73 on Saturday and 1-over 72 Sunday to tie for 11th at 217.

Park, who led the team after one round, struggled to maintain her standing, shooting 5-over 76 and then 8-over 79 in the final round to finish tied for 46th at 226. Morris finished tied for 73rd at 232, notching 5-over 76 on Saturday before shooting 8-over 79 in the final round.

Popov, who captured her fourth individual victory during the last tournament, struggled to a 10-over 81 on the second round before finishing strongly at 2-over 73 in the final round, bringing her to 51st. The finish was disappointing for Popov, who was looking to add to her momentum from the previous tournament.

The season has been rather inconsistent for the Women of Troy, who have struggled to repeat their success from last season. After winning four tournaments and receiving numerous accolades, the team has only captured one tournament victory thus far, but is still ranked high nationally and is optimistic about the end of the season.

“Last tournament, we played very solid golf and didn’t give shots away. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done as a team, but it was good to be in the hunt and now we know what we need to work on to try and win the next one,” Popov said.

The Women of Troy will be off until April 16th, when they participate in the two-day Pacific Coast Intercollegiate at Half Moon Bay. Following that, the team will gear up for the 2012 Pac-12 Championships, which will take place April 27th-29th in Pullman, Washington.