No. 2 USC Kicks Off 2016-17 Campaign At OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational|
Sept. 14, 2016
The No. 2 USC men’s golf team, coming off of back-to-back NCAA Championships semifinal appearances and returning its entire starting lineup that is bolstered by a pair of strong newcomers, kicks off the 2016-17 fall campaign at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational, Friday through Sunday (Sept.16-18), at the Olympia Fields C.C. North Course.
Under the leadership of 11th-year head coach Chris Zambri, the Trojans join host Illinois in a stacked 15-team field that also includes Alabama, Arizona State, Army, Baylor, Florida State, Indiana, UNLV, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Texas A&M and Texas.
Play is set to start at 7 a.m. PT each day with live results available here.
The Trojans were ranked No. 2 in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll released in August and received four first-place votes, one of just two schools to receive multiple first-place selections. The other is No. 1 Texas, which defeated the Trojans in the 2106 NCAA semifinals before falling to eventual champion Oregon. Host Illinois joined the Trojans and Longhorns in the 2016 NCAA semifinals.
USC earned the high ranking thanks in part to its best depth in years. Zambri returns seniors Rico Hoey and Andrew Levitt, juniors Sean Crocker and Jonah Texeira and sophomore Justin Suh, all starters during a 2015-16 campaign in which Troy was ranked No. 1 for much of the season.
Opinions on the team were also bolstered, no doubt, by its newcomers and overall depth. Added to the mix this season is freshman Cheng Jin, from China, one of the top amateurs in the world, as well as talented freshman Kyle Suppa, both of whom will push for starting spots. Also back are seniors David Kim and Danny Ochoa, sophomore Ryan Slater (USC’s most-used reserve last year) and redshirt freshman Ing Ratanavadi.
“We probably have our deepest roster ever heading into this season,” Zambri said. “With that, our goal is to continue to improve on a weekly basis but to also try to win every golf tournament we play. Olympia Fields will be a great test for us.”
Hoey, who finished second at the 2016 NCAAs at 3-under 277 en route to PING All-American second team honors, won the 117th SCGA Amateur title in July. Crocker, an All-Pac-12 second teamer, won the Monroe Invitational Championship, posting a four-stroke victory.
Suh, a PING All-American honorable mention pick last season, played as an amateur in the U.S. Open this summer while Jin played in The Master’s in May and won the Players Amateur title in July to earn an exemption into the PGA’s RBC Heritage next spring.
Seven Trojans, including five on this year’s team, played in the 2016 U.S. Amateur, where Texeira carried USC’s flag all the way to the semifinals before bowing out. Texeira’s trip to the U.S. Amateur semifinals repeated Crocker’s run in 2015.