The No. 1-ranked USC women’s golf team began their fall season Monday, tying for eighth after one round at the Dale McNamara Fall Preview in Tulsa, Okla. The round marked the Women of Troy’s first steps toward defending their 2012 National Championship, won by one of the largest margins in NCAA history.
Sophomore Kyung Kim, who tied for sixth at last year’s NCAA championship as a freshman, led the Women of Troy on Monday with a 1-under 69. Her score was good enough to put her in a nine-way tie for third place. Kim struggled on the front nine, but strung together two consecutive birdies on the back nine to lift her up the leaderboard and within two strokes of first place.
Freshman Gabriella Then made a strong debut for the Trojans, hovering near par all day before falling to 1-over on the 18th hole. Then is tied for 21st but is just four strokes behind Oklahoma State’s Julie Yang at the top of the leaderboard. Stanford’s Lauren Kim is in sole possession of second place.
Two of USC’s team leaders from a year ago, senior Sophia Popov and sophomore Annie Park, struggled in comparison to their excellent spring campaigns. Popov finished with a 2-over 73, while Park came in at 5-over. The odds are favorable that this pair will return to form, considering Popov is aiming at several USC career records this season and Park is defending an individual national title.
The Women of Troy have 10 strokes to make up if they are to catch leader No. 16 Oklahoma State over the next two rounds. No. 3 Duke, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 12 Stanford also stand in the team’s way. The rest of the tournament can be followed all day Tuesday and Wednesday on golfstat.com.
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