The men’s golf team will kick off their 2019 spring season at the Amer Ari Invitational this weekend. After a couple months away, the No. 4 Trojans will look to continue their stellar season in what appears to be a loaded field at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course in Hawaii.
The Trojans started off the fall season ranked in the mid-twenties, but have steadily risen to break the top five as the season has progressed. The Amer Ari Invitational presents another chance for the team to prove itself against higher-ranked opponents.
Aside from various Hawaiian and West Coast schools, powerhouses such as No. 1 Oklahoma State and second-ranked Georgia Tech aim to solidify their status as the best two teams in the nation. Other ranked teams include No. 12 Texas and No. 13 Auburn, who had a huge jump in the standings at the end of fall play. The field is very similar to last year, as are the rankings of the teams in the tournament at this point last season.
These four teams, along with USC, should control the field, as four of the five teams earned conference championships in 2018, and Oklahoma State won the 2018 NCAA title. USC’s performance against them could help set the tone for their overall performance in the second and more crucial half of the season.
The men’s squad finished off the fall of 2018 at the St. Mary’s Invitational with a eighth out of 18 finish, despite starting with a large deficit. In fact, slow starts developing into hot finishes have become a common storyline this season, as St. Mary’s was not the first time that the team has recovered from a bad day one in a tournament.
However, the Trojans cannot rely too heavily on second or third day heroics this time around. In the St. Mary’s Tournament, USC was one of the best overall teams present, and a comeback was not too surprising. The caliber of teams the Trojans will face at Amer Ari will most likely be good enough to fend off any comeback bids by USC because of their staunchly solid lineups.
For USC to have a successful outing, the whole team must play consistently well and post good numbers on all three days. In 2018’s Amer Ari tournament, USC finished a solid third behind Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech. Oklahoma State dominated last year and again boasts an amazing team, but if USC is to contend with them in any tournament, it would be this one.
Senior Justin Suh will look to bounce back from an underwhelming performance at St. Mary’s at Amer Ari. Last year, he was able to shoot under 70 on all three days and claim the individual title at the tournament.
This season, he will have even more support as freshman Charlie Reiter will attempt to extend his impressive campaign. Additionally, sophomore Issei Tanabe played outstandingly well into 2018, leading the Trojans to their comeback in the St. Mary’s Tournament by finishing second overall.
The team has reason for excitement this weekend and could make a huge statement if they were to beat Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech or even both. This tournament could hint at USC’s potential to make a title run in the postseason, so the stakes and pressure will be extremely high.