Trojans recover from slow start to win tournament

The USC men’s golf team overcame an eight-stroke deficit during Wednesday’s final round to capture a share of the Prestige Tournament title. The squad finished tied atop the leaderboard with Pac-12 rival and second round leader No. 7 Washington.

Sophomore standout Anthony Paolucci paced the No. 8 Trojans, posting a 1-under par 70 in each of his three rounds to finish in a three-way tie for second place individually.

It was junior Ramsey Sahyoun, however, who overcame a poor second round to lead the Trojans to the top of the leaderboard on Wednesday. Sahyoun’s final round of 68 led a USC squad with three other players finishing under par, including Paolucci, junior Jeffrey Kang and freshman Yi Keun Chang.

The 15 participating teams at the PGA West Course in La Quinta, Calif., were exposed to the curse of early-season darkness throughout the tourney. Paolucci was only able to complete 15 of his scheduled 18 holes Tuesday before play was suspended, and he was forced to play three extra holes on Wednesday. The Trojans escaped a similar fate in Monday’s opening round, when seven of 15 competing squads could not finish golfing before darkness overtook the course.

The rush to beat the night seemed to help USC’s squad on day one. The Trojans posted an impressive 5-under 279 collectively, finishing just a single stroke behind round leader Texas Christian University. Paolucci, Chang and Kang all had strong performances. The trio landed in the individual top-15 for the round, and Kang’s 4-under 67 was good for a share of the round lead.

Day two of the tournament, however, was a different story. The team slid to fifth place, 10 strokes behind leader and Pac-12 rival No. 5 UCLA. Paolucci’s strong effort, good enough to raise him to fourth place individually, was not enough to make up for less than stellar days from the rest of the squad. USC head coach Chris Zambri was disappointed with a lack of consistency.

“We have had some fine play,” Zambri said. “But we have made way too many mistakes to be leading.”

In the final round of play, USC sought to come from behind and add another top-five finish to its resume. Sahyoun’s improvement and Paolucci’s consistency certainly helped accomplish that goal, leading the team to a collective 6-under 278 on day three.

Adding that score to day one’s 279 helped overcome a rough 10-over 294 on Tuesday.

“The guys stayed positive today after a rough second round,” Zambri said. “Coach Wurzer and I are so proud of them for that. They played like champs today.”

The team returns to action next week at Westlake Village’s North Ranch Intercollegiate.