After 36 holes of play ended on Monday, the USC women’s golf team held the lead by five strokes over crosstown rival UCLA at the Bruin Wave Invitational. In yesterday’s final round at El Caballero C.C. in Tarzana, Calif., the Women of Troy continued their strong performance to capture the championship by a total of 13 strokes over No. 15 Pepperdine. Though USC junior Doris Chen did not repeat her stellar 5-under round that she posted during the second round of play, the experience of USC sophomores Kyung Kim and Annie Park, the team’s top two ranked players, proved to be too much for the remaining teams on Tuesday. Head coach Andrea Gaston was ecstatic about the victory.
“I’m really proud of the team for coming back this week and dominating at this course,” Gaston told USC Trojans. “It’s one of the most difficult courses we’ll play all year.”
The Women of Troy finished strong, posting the lowest overall effort of the final round at 2-over par. Erynne Lee of UCLA grabbed a hole-in-one on hole six, but the Bruins struggled to capitalize on Lee’s inspiring shot. In the final standings, Pepperdine finished second after a 7-over par final round, No. 2 UCLA failed to impress with their worst execution of the tournament carding a 20-over par on the final day and No. 10 Arizona rounded out the top four with a 17-over par posted Tuesday. After having lost to UCLA last week in New Orleans, this victory should be a significant boost to the team’s morale. Gaston was clear about the reasons behind her team’s success.
“The key to our win this week was staying patient, especially during the 36-hole day,” she told USCTrojans.com. “It’s easy to have a few tough holes on such a difficult golf course, but we did everything we could to encourage our players to stay in the moment and focus on each shot. That second-round 11-under was incredible.”
Though Park struggled during the first round of play Monday, posting a 5-over 77, her final two rounds were vital to the team’s win. Park, Kim, and Grace Na of Pepperdine each conquered tough final round conditions, finishing with rounds of 69, 73, 71, respectively, on Tuesday. This marked Park’s ninth round in the 60s, setting a school record. She broke the previous record of eight rounds set by two USC women, Jennifer Song in 2010, and Irene Cho in 2006.
Individually, the Women of Troy could not have asked for a better finish to the tournament, as Kim placed first, and Park and Chen finished right behind her in a tie for second. Gaston was impressed with Kim’s consistent performance throughout the tournament.
“I was also excited to see Kyung hang in there down the stretch and get the individual win, along with Doris and Annie tying for second,” Gaston told USC Trojans. “We had little time to prepare, and had to practice between rainstorms, but they got it done.”
Kim echoed her coach’s sentiments.
“I’m very excited for my team to come back and win this week,” she told USC Trojans. “This was a test for me to play well on such a demanding course. I’m happy that I was able to stay patient.”
Senior Sophia Popov also completed the tournament strongly in 13th place, and is the only member of the USC women’s golf team to have not finished outside of the top 20 in any event this season.
With their next round not scheduled until March 24 during the SDSU Farms Invitational in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Women of Troy hope to take this momentum with them throughout this long break. One could say the USC women’s golf team deserves this break, however, after notching their sixth win of the season after yesterday’s victory.