Women’s golf set to play in highly touted tournament

The Trojans will head to Palos Verdes for their first tournament of the spring.

Senior Christine Wang produced the second worst stroke average for the Trojans last season, averaging 74.49 strokes per 18 holes. However, she cemented her mark on the team this season with a 3-2 victory over Texas A&M senior Zoe Slaughter. (Louis Chen / Daily Trojan)

No. 5 women’s golf is set to play in the Therese Hession Regional Challenge early next week (Feb. 4-6) at Palos Verdes Golf Club. USC looks to start another series of tournaments and invitationals off strong at one of the team’s home facilities after winning two of its four events in the fall.

The Trojans’ spring season began with a head-to-head match against Texas A&M, which USC lost 4-2. The two individual matches USC won were by senior Christine Wang and sophomore Catherine Park. Park won her individual match when the Trojans faced the Aggies back in early November, a match they won as a team 3-2. 

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USC’s loss can be tossed up to its midseason break.

“The takeaways for us were that we were not ready,” said Head Coach Justin Silverstein in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “I don’t think as a group we got enough rounds on the course over winter break, so we had to play a bunch of rounds as a team to get sharp and ready to go.”

Looking ahead to this weekend’s tournament, the Trojans face a highly competitive field made up of several ranked opponents, including No. 4 UCLA and No. 6 South Carolina. However, there’s one team USC has recent history with:  No. 1 Wake Forest. 

In the 2023 NCAA women’s championship, the Trojans lost a tight 3-1 match to the Demon Deacons after upsetting then-No. 1 Stanford in the semifinals. Then, earlier this season, the Trojans battled Wake Forest again in the semifinals of the East Lake Cup in Atlanta, but fell 3-2. Although losing to the same team twice usually gives a team extra motivation, Silverstein wants his team to maintain a consistent mentality throughout the season.

“Motivation hasn’t played a big factor,” Silverstein said. “I do think the experience we got last year has paid off in a big way… but just because that team last year played pretty decently during the regular season and kind of peaked in the postseason winning [the] Pac-12 and then runner-up at nationals, we don’t want to rely on that. Let’s just be great all season.”

The biggest positive for the Trojans heading into the latter part of the year is retaining the bulk of last season’s talent. Junior Amari Avery, junior Cindy Kou and senior Brianna Navarrosa were a part of USC’s runner-up squad last year and have experience going deep into the postseason.

The Trojans also added freshmen Bailey Shoemaker and Frances Kim, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 22 respectively in the 2023 recruiting class, NBC’s Golf Channel wrote in an article. These two newcomers are expected to make immediate impacts. 

“We know we got [to the NCAA Championship] and we have the skills, like we are that team,” said Park in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “We have a good team this year with our two freshmen, so we’re just going with that drive of winning this year because we know we can do Pac-12’s. So, win that, and nationals next.”

The Hession Regional Challenge will run from Sunday to its final round Tuesday.

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