Four-day stroke play kicks off Friday at Eugene (Ore.) C.C.
Trojans looking for 10th straight trip to NCAA final and repeat trip to national final match.
Fourth top regional seed for Trojans since 2008.
Trojans seeking first conference title since 2011.
Four Trojans finish in the top 10 as team wraps up regular season.
Chris Zambri, a former USC All-Pac-10 performer and longtime Nationwide Tour veteran, is in his 10th year as USC's men's golf head coach. Zambri has established himself as among the top coaches in the nation and has taken his team to the NCAA Championships final in each of his first nine years.
Zambri's teams have won 19 events (as of the end of the 2014-15 season), including Pac-10 titles in 2007 and 2011 and NCAA Regionals in 2008 and 2012. His 2015 team was a program-best NCAA Championships runner-up while his 2008 team came within three strokes of first place at the NCAAs. Trojan golfers have also won 18 individual crowns under Zambri (as of the end of the 2014-15 season).
In 2014-15, Zambri led the Trojans to a program-best NCAA runner-up finish during a season in which the Trojans won three times. USC’s three regular-season wins were among eight top 3 finishes and featured 2015 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Sean Crocker and All-Pac-12 first teamers sophomore Rico Hoey and Crocker. The pair also earned PING All-West Region honors. The Trojans qualified for the NCAA Championships final field of 30 teams after finishing third at the NCAA Bremerton Regional. At the NCAAs, USC finished fifth after 72 holes of stroke play to earn a spot in the eight-team match play final. USC, as the No. 5 seed, faced No. 4 seed and second-ranked Texas in the quarterfinals and upset the Longhorns, 4-1, Crocker clinching the win on his first extra hole to complement victories by Hoey and junior Bobby Gojuangco. The Trojans then downed No. 1 seed and fourth-ranked Illinois, 3.5-1.5, in the semifinals. Gojuangco and Hoey won again and senior Eric Sugimoto provided the clincher after winning the 17th hole. USC, which had never finished better than third place in program history (something it had done seven times), then battled eventual champion LSU deep into all five matches before ultimately falling, 4-1.
The 2013-14 Trojans featured a pair of PING All-American third teamers in then-freshman Hoey and junior Anthony Paolucci, who led the team to the eighth straight NCAA Championship final under Zambri. The squad won once and posted six top 3 finishes and tied for fourth in a tight NCAA Sugar Grove Regional to earn a spot into the NCAA final. Hoey was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year with one of the top seasons in USC golf history, leading USC in stroke average (71.36), top 10 finishes (eight), rounds in the 60s (16), birdies (165) and eagles (eight). Hoey and Paolucci earned 2014 GCAA All-West Region honors, Paolucci was All-Pac-12 second team and three others earned honorable mention honors. Hoey also represented the U.S. on the 2014 Palmer Cup team.
The Trojans won twice in 2012-13, and used a fourth-place NCAA Pullman Regional result to advance to their seventh straight NCAA final, where they tied for 23rd. The team won back-to-back titles mid-season at The Prestige at PGA West and at the North Ranch Intercollegiate. Senior Sam Smith and freshman Yi Keun Chang both earned PING All-American honorable mention and All-Pac-12 second team honors and finished 1-2 in stroke average on the team.
USC hosted the NCAA Championships at The Riveria in Palisades, Calif., in Zambri's sixth season at the helm in 2011-12. The Trojans punched their ticket to the NCAA final after a win at the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional, one of two victories on the year (the other at the Gifford Collegiate). The Trojans did not make match play, however, tying for 15th. Senior Steve Lim and sophomore Jeffrey Kang each earned PING All-American honorable mention honors while Lim earned All-Pac-12 first team honors and Kang second team. The duo finished 1-2 in stroke average and also each won an event, Lim in the final fall event at the Gifford Collegiate, Kang to open the spring season at the Amer Ari at Waikoloa Beach.
The 2010-11 Trojans made their fifth trip in a row to the NCAA Championships finals in Zambri's fifth year at the helm and won the Pac-10 title for the second time in five years. Zambri's squad won twice on the season, getting hot in the spring. Troy claimed the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, took second at the Western Intercollegiate and then won the Pac-10 title (in a playoff). In addition to the conference crown, sophomore Martin Trainer won a seven-hole playoff for the individual title. USC finished second at the NCAA San Diego Regional to advance to the NCAA final. But the steam ran out and saw the Trojans tied for 12th, missing the top 8 cut for the match play portion of the championships. Trainer earned All-Pac-10 first team honors while Lim, as a junior, and Kang, as a freshman, nabbed second team notice.
Zambri directed the 2009-2010 squad deep into the postseason despite fielding a team often relying on three freshmen and a sophomore in many events. Junior Matt Giles (the team's only upperclassmen) and freshman T.J. Vogel, a 2010 NGCA Freshman All-American and Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year, helped lead USC to seven top 5 finishes, including a third at the Pac-10 Championships and a second at the NCAA Regional in Washington that sent USC to the NCAA Final for the fourth year in a row. Following the season, Zambri served as head coach for the U.S. team that defeated Europe, 13-11, to claim the 2010 Palmer Cup, America's first win since 2002.
In the 2008-2009 season, Zambri directed a squad that featured three All-Americans in Giles, Tom Glissmeyer and Tim Sluiter. Giles was also the 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year. The Trojans, who won two tournaments on the year, advanced past the NCAA Championships strokeplay stage into the eight-team match-play competition before falling in the quarterfinals.
After a highly successful 2007-2008 season, Zambri was named the 2008 GCAA National, the Pacific Region and the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. The honors came on the heels of a stellar campaign that saw USC finish just three strokes short of winning its first-ever NCAA title. As it was, USC finished third at the NCAA Championships (something Troy hadn't done since 1975). USC won four tournaments on the season (all within its final seven events), including its first ever NCAA Regional championship. Troy also tied for first at the Pac-10 Championships (but fell in a playoff). Sophomores Jamie Lovemark and Rory Hie were tabbed as All-American first teamers while Glissmeyer, Sluiter and Giles all earned All-American honorable mention honors. It was the first time in school history USC featured five All-Americans. Lovemark and Hie also marked the first time USC had two All-American first teamers in one season.
In his first season as head coach, Zambri guided USC to an appearance in the 2007 NCAA Championships and the Trojans' 18th Pac-10 team title. At the NCAA Championships, Lovemark, then a freshman, became Troy's fourth NCAA individual champion. Lovemark earned the Arnold Palmer (national championship individual medalist), Jack Nicklaus (national player of the year) and Phil Mickelson (nation's outstanding freshman) Awards and was tabbed a Ping All-American first teamer. Lovemark earlier became USC's 20th Pac-10 individual champion while four other Trojans finished in the top 10 en route to the team crown. Lovemark was named Pac-10 Co-Golfer and Freshman of the Year honors while fellow freshman Rory Hie was tabbed a Pac-10 second teamer. On the season, the Trojans posted 12 top 5 finishes and six in the top 2.
Zambri, 43, played six years on the Nationwide Tour and was an active teaching professional when he was not competing.
A 1993 USC graduate who played for the Trojans from 1989 to 1993, Zambri played six seasons on the Nationwide Tour between 1997 and 2004. He finished as high as 19th on the circuit's money list in 1998, posting two second-place finishes that year. He competed in four PGA Tour events as well as the 1995 and 1999 U.S. Opens. As a Trojan, he was a two-time All-Pac-10 second team selection in 1991 and 1993.
"This is the opportunity of a lifetime," said Zambri when he was hired. "I look forward to not only bringing championships to USC, but to influencing the young people on the team in positive ways on and off the golf course."
Zambri is married to Kim Zambri and they have three children: Wyatt, 15, Joseph, 11, and Laney, 9.
Zambri's USC Team Champions
Zambri's USC Individual Champions