No. 16 USC Begins NCAA Regional Play Thursday
Trojans need top 5 finish to advance to eighth straight NCAA final.
May 13, 2014
The USC men's golf team, ranked No. 16 and a top 2 finisher in three of its last five events and in search of the program's first NCAA title, continues the postseason in NCAA Regional action at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., hosted by Northern Illinois, Thursday through Saturday (May 15-17).
The Trojans, who have reached the NCAA final for the past seven years, all under eighth-year head coach Chris Zambri, are among 81 teams grouped into six regionals. Five teams in each regional - three with 13 teams and three with 14 teams -- and the low individual not on those teams will advance to the NCAA Championship final, hosted by Wichita State, May 23-28, in Hutchinson, Kan.
Joining the No. 3-seeded Trojans in their region are No. 1 seed California, No. 2 Illinois, No. 4 Alabama-Birmingham, No. 5 UNLV, No. 6 Clemson, No. 7 Kent State, No. 8 Purdue, No. 9 Mississippi State, No. 10 Cal State Fullerton, No. 11 New Mexico State, No. 12 Jacksonville State, No. 13 Cleveland State and No. 14 Saint Peter's. Niall Platt (Notre Dame), Chris O'Neill (Michigan), Danny Pizetoski (Richmond), Juan Veloza (Towson), Rob van de Vin (IUPUI) will play as individuals. The complete NCAA field can be found at the NCAA site here.
USC has been led this year by Rico Hoey, the 2014 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year who boasts a team-best 71.19 stroke average and 14 rounds in the 60s to go with a team-high seven top 7 finishes. Junior Anthony Paolucci, a 2014 All-Pac-12 second teamer, is second in stroke average (71.89) and rounds in the 60s (nine) and has five top 10 finishes. Both have won one event apiece this season.
Senior Jeffrey Kang
joins Paolucci as the only other returning player from last year's squad that played in the NCAAs. Hoey is one of three newcomers in the Trojan starting lineup. Junior Paul Smith
, the younger brother of the recently graduated All-American Sam Smith
, and junior transfer Eric Sugimoto
, join Hoey as first-year NCAA participants.
Action on the par 72, 7,151-yard course begins at 8 a.m. (CT) Thursday and Friday and at 7:30 a.m. CT on Saturday. Live results will be available at Golfstat.com. Click herefor the Northern Illinois home site for the tournament.
HOEY NAMED TO U.S. PALMER CUP TEAM
USC freshman Rico Hoey, who has seven Top 7 finishes this year, was one of 10 players selected to represent the U.S. in the 2014 Palmer Cup on April 17. This year's event will be held June 26-28 at Walton Health Golf Club in Surrey, England. Hoey was one of six golfers selected by the Palmer Cup ranking thanks to his standout freshman season. He leads the Trojans with a stroke average of 70.59 and has a team-best 14 rounds in the 60s, including a recent streak of seven in a row. Among his seven top 7 finishes was a win at the Gifford Collegiate tournament at 8-under 202 (68-66-68). Hoey has finished in the top 5 in four of his past five events. Hoey will be the fourth Trojan to compete in the Palmer Cup. Brian Hull (1997) and Jamie Lovemark (2007) represented the U.S while Tim Sluiter played for Europe in 2008 and 2009. USC Coach Chris Zambri coached the U.S. team in 2010.
Junior Anthony Paolucci, ranked No. 14 in the last Palmer Cup standings, won his first collegiate tournament at the Jones Invitational in February, holding on for a one-stroke victory thanks to a birdie on the 18th hole to win at par 216 (70-73-73) ... He has five top 10 finishes this year and seven top 12s ... He is second on the team in stroke average (71.89) to go with nine rounds in the 60s, second best on the team ... He took second at the Gifford Collegiate at 7-under 203 (68-66-69) and tied for fifth at the Arizona Intercollegiate at 1-over 214 (65-70-79) where his first round was a collegiate best. He also tied for seventh at The Goodwin at 3-under 207 (70-68-69), for ninth at the Amer Ari Invitational at 10-under 206 (68-67-71), tied for 11th at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at even 216 (74-70-72) and tied for 12th at the William H. Tucker Invitational at 5-over 221 (73-73-75).
Freshman Rico Hoey, a 2014 Palmer Cup selection as a top 6 automatic pick, leads the Trojans with a 71.19 stroke average to go with a team-high 14 rounds in the 60s, including a recent streak of seven in a row ... He is ranked No. 22 nationally and boasts one of USC's two wins this season, a victory at the Gifford Collegiate in November when he finished at 8-under 202 (68-66-68), one of five top 10 finishes ... Hoey, who has been USC's top finisher five times this season, has seven top 7 results (with four straight in the top 5), including back-to-back second-places at The Goodwin at 8-under 202 (66-69-67) and at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at 9-under 207 (71-69-67) and a tie for third at the Western Intercollegiate at 4-under 206 (68-68-70). He also tied for fourth at the U.S. Collegiate Championship at 4-under 212 (70-71-71), took fifth at the Jones Invitational at 5-over 221 (74-73-74) and tied for seventh at the Amer Ari Invitational at 11-under 205 (65-69-71). He was in the top 10 mix in his collegiate debut at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, but was disqualified after signing for an incorrect scorecard.
Senior Jeffrey Kang, an All-American as a 2012 sophomore, is fourth on the team with a stroke average of 72.70 and he has posted six top 12 finishes, including a second-place at the Amer Ari Invitational at 15-under 201 (66-67-68). It was USC's lowest 54-hole score since Rory Hie won the 2008 U.S. Intercollegiate at 10-under 200. Kang tied for eighth at the Kikkor Individual at 4-over 217 (72-70-75) as well as at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at 1-under 215 (71-73-71), tied for 10th at the Jones Invitational at 7-over 223 (76-73-74), tied for 12th at the William H. Tucker at 5-over 221 (74-74-73) and tied for 12th at the Arizona Intercollegiate (70-73-75) ... He has four rounds in the 60s this year.
Junior Paul Smith, the younger brother of former Trojan All-American Sam Smith and a first-year Trojan, has five top 20 finishes this season, including a tie for seventh at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational at 2-under 214 (72-73-69) and his best effort of the season, a tie for ninth at the Pac-12 Championships at 4-over 292 (71-71-72-78). Smith was in contention for the conference title until late in the final round. Other top finishes this year include a tie for 16th at The Goodwin at even 210 (71-73-66) and a tie for 18th at the Gifford Collegiate at 3-over 213 (75-70-68). He also tied for 19th at the Jones Invitational at 10-over 226 (74-76-76). He has three rounds in the 60s, each coming in final rounds.
Eric Sugimoto is the squad's newest member, the junior joining the Trojans this spring after two seasons at Pacific. Sugimoto, third on the team in stroke average (72.32), won the 2013 Big West Championships title as a sophomore for his first collegiate win and earned All-Big West first team honors. He has seen action in every spring event, highlighted by a tie for a tie for fourth at the Pac-12 Championships at 1-under 287 (74-72-73-68). Sugimoto's final round marked his third round in the 60s this season. His other top 10 finish this season was a sixth at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic at 2-under 214 (70-74-70). He has four other top 26 finishes, including a tie for 20th at the Amer Ari Invitational at 8-under 208 (70-70-68) and a tie for 15th at the Jones Invitational at 9-over 225 (74-74-77).