USC men’s golf ends regular season with victory

The No. 1 men’s golf team won the Western Intercollegiate tournament this weekend in Santa Cruz, Calif., closing out the regular season as the top-ranked team in the country. The tournament was a highlight for sophomore Justin Suh, who notched the first win of his collegiate career.

This was the fourth title of the year for the Trojans, who won with a final score of 1,050 (347-348-355). The finish was 18 strokes better than Stanford, which came in second place, and 20 strokes ahead of Oregon in third.

Suh’s victory came with a 5-under 205 finish (68-67-70). It was his third finish in the final top three on the season, ending with five birdies in the final round. Suh won by four strokes, leading the entirety of Sunday’s play.

Meanwhile, junior Sean Crocker took home a tie for second at 1-under 209 (72-70-67) after a clutch 3-under final round. That final round helped Crocker extend his streak of under par tournaments to eight straight. Fellow junior Jonah Texeira tied for eighth, finishing 2-over
(68-73-71). It was the best finish for Texeira since November’s Gifford Collegiate tournament.

Seniors Rico Hoey (72-71-72) and Andrew Levitt (73-67-75) rounded out the group with a tie for 21st, finishing 5-over 215, while freshman Cheng Jin tied for 39th with 9-over 210 (67-77-75).

Now, the Trojans prepare to enter postseason play next week with a trip to the Pac-12 Championships. They finished fifth in the conference last spring during the tournament in Salt Lake City.

After the Pac-12 Championships, the Trojans will look toward the NCAA Championships. The regional tournament will kick off on May 8, but it’s uncertain which location the Trojans will be assigned to for the first round. Six different courses around the country will host NCAA Regionals, and the Trojans could find themselves in nearby Stanford, Calif. or as far away as Austin, Texas or Baton Rouge, La.

USC is looking to make it all the way to the finals in Sugar Grove, Ill. after a disappointing finish to last year’s season. Despite a No. 3 ranking, the Trojans fell to Texas in a 4-1 semifinals upset, prematurely ending an otherwise successful season.

This year, the Trojans come in as the favorite to take the tournament. In the last four months, the Trojans have notched only one finish below second place in a tournament. A particularly strong showing in March and February helped the team leap from No. 6 to No. 1 in the national rankings, coming off the heels of top-two finishes at the Amer Ari Invitational, the Southwestern Invitational, the Southern Highlands Collegiate and The Goodwin.

With three weeks to prepare, the Trojans are locking in as they look to redeem themselves after last year’s fifth-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships. The tournament will tee off on April 28 in Boulder, Colo.