Women of Troy No. 1 in preseason poll

The USC women’s golf team will start defending its national championship this upcoming season with the preseason No. 1 ranking from the Division I College Women’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll that was released Wednesday.

With the Women of Troy returning all five of their starters from last year’s NCAA championship team, the vote to put USC on top was nearly unanimous, receiving 26 of 29 first-place votes.

Alabama was voted to the No. 2 spot, while Duke, last year’s NCAA championship runner-up, was voted third. Two Pac-12 teams, UCLA and Arizona State, were voted fourth and fifth, respectively, to round out the top five.

Led by coach Andrea Gatson in her 18th year at the helm, the Trojans’ starting lineup features an array of All-Americans.

Sophomore Annie Park, the reigning WGCA and Pac-12 Player of the Year, is expected to anchor the starting quintet. Senior Sophia Popov, junior Doris Chen and sophomore Kyung Kim also received All-American honors last year, and senior Rachel Morris was voted All-Pac-12.

The Women of Troy also welcome a couple of the nation’s top junior talents in Gabriella Then and Karen Chung this season to complete the rotation along with sophomore reserves Kim Santiago, Ellie Chai and Victoria Morgan.

The team will once again have great expectations this upcoming season after winning a school-record seven events and the NCAA West Regional en route to capturing the national championship last year.

They open up the 2013-14 campaign on Sept. 9 to 11 at the Dale McNamara Fall Preview at the Tulsa, Okla. Country Club, which will also host the 2014 NCAA Championships in late May.

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