Golf teams stay near top of standings

The USC men’s and women’s golf teams had been on a bit of a hot streak of late, and they planned on continuing their strong play this week in their respective out-of-state tournaments.

The men’s team took first place in The Prestige tournament in La Quinta, Calif. last week and the women’s team took second in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.  The men’s team began play at the North Ranch Intercollegiate tournament Monday, but the women’s team was unable to take the course at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La.

The Women of Troy faced a weather delay at English Turn Golf and Country Club on Monday when damaging overnight rain forced play to be suspended. The squad sits just outside the top five in the tournament standings after Sunday’s first round competition. Junior Sophia Popov has led the team so far with an opening round 2-under 70, while freshman Annie Park was right behind her with a 1-under 71.

Popov had an impressive four-birdie performance, finishing the final eight holes at 2-under to tie for seventh and is three strokes behind the leader. Park started off slow, opening at 3-over through nine holes but finished strong in the back nine at 4-under. The freshman is tied for 15th entering today’s play.

Freshman Kyung Kim and junior Rachel Morris are tied for 31st at 1-over 73 while freshman Kim Santiago is tied for 89th at 12-over 84. Host Tulane leads the tournament with a first round 6-under 282. The Green Wave’s No. 1 seed Emily Penttila posted a stellar 5-under 67 to lead the way in the individual standings.

Pac-12 rival UCLA is tied with Duke at second place with 5-under 283, while Alabama and Florida round out the top five. The Trojans, though in 6th place, are only five strokes off the lead with their opening round 287 and just a single stroke from the top five. Play will continue with an 8 a.m. start Tuesday, as the Women of Troy look to rise up the leaderboard in their final 36 holes.

On the men’s side, USC sits well ahead of second-place Pepperdine as the 36-hole first day of competition at the North Ranch Intercollegiate finally draws to a close. The No. 8 Trojans, co-hosts of the two-day tournament with the Waves, were led by the outstanding play of senior Sam Smith. He finished his first round with a 6-under 136, good enough to tie him for the individual round lead.

Smith overcame a rough outing at The Prestige last week to lead a USC team that also was backed by strong performances from freshman Yi Keun Chang and junior Jeffrey Kang, who scored a 4-under 138 and a 3-over 145, respectively.

“After a very rocky start, the team managed to post a couple of good scores,” USC head coach Chris Zambri said.  “Sam [Smith] had a great day and Yi Keun [Chang] hung very tough after a bad start.”

Junior Ramsey Sahyoun and sophomore standout Anthony Paolucci struggled throughout the day after anchoring the team to a share of the title last week. Paolucci scored a 5-over 147 and is currently tied for 23rd. Sahyoun recorded a 9-over 151, though he finished his second round with a 1-over 71, much better than his effort on the first 18 holes.

“We don’t play too many 36-hole days,” Zambri said. “They are very long days but after a sluggish start, it was nice to know we would have a bunch of holes to claw back.”

With only the top four individual scores contributing to the team standings, the Trojans finished round one with an impressive 2-under 564 (285-279) collectively, which was 10 strokes better than second-place Pepperdine (292-282) and BYU (283-291), who are tied at 6-over 574.

The final day of the tournament will begin today, with tee times starting at 7:30 a.m.