No. 1 USC Vaults Into Lead At Northrop Grumman
Feb. 10, 2014
Sophomore Annie Park fired her second consecutive 4-under 67 while sophomore Kyung Kim carded a 69 as the top-ranked Trojans - gunning for their school-record and national-best eighth straight win - fought off gusty conditions to take over first by 14 strokes after the second round of the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at the Palos Verdes (Calif.) G.C. on Monday (Feb. 10).
The Trojans, the defending NCAA champions who opened this season with four straight wins in fall play, turned in a 5-under second round - the best of the day by 12 strokes --- and moved to 1-under 567 (288-279). No. 2 UCLA, tied for third after the second round, improved to second at 13-over 581 (290-291) after turning in the second-best round of the day. No. 3 Duke, tied with UCLA after 18 holes, is third at 16-over 584 while day one leader Baylor is fourth at 17-over 585.
"Today we just played very steady and stayed very patient, which we had to be because of the windy conditions," USC Coach Andrea Gaston said. "I told all the girls that on these greens, you have to be patient because of the speed and if you start to force things, you're going to find yourself with long putts coming back and looking at bogeys or three putts.
"I think they've all realized today was a really good day because of the conditions they played in. This course can really play tough. Now we have to focus on another solid round tomorrow."
Park, sitting at 8-under 134 (67-67), and Kim, at 3-under 139 (70-69), occupy the first two slots on the leaderboard, but it was an overall strong team effort for the Trojans that catapulted them into a double digit lead as USC bested its best ever round at the course by one stroke (set last year).
Senior Sophia Popov is tied for 13th at 3-over 145 (74-71), junior Doris Chen is tied for 29th at 7-over 149 (77-72) and freshman Karen Chung is tied for 49th at 10-over 152 (78-74). Additionally, freshman Gabriella Then, playing as an individual, is tied for 17th at 4-over 146 (71-75).
A four-time winner last year, Park put herself in position for her fifth career crown with a deft round that featured five birdies and an eagle on the par 5 fifth hole. She was 2-under on the front 9 and the back. She chipped in for birdie on 15 and almost sank her second eagle of the day on 16, but her 20-foot putt went just wide.
Her pair of 67s tie her with Popov and former Trojan All-Americans Jennifer Song and Paola Moreno for USC's low round ever at the Palos Verdes G.C. Moreno's 212 that won her the 2008 Pac-10 individual title is USC's best 54-hole score at the course -- and is now in jeopardy.
Park and Kim are now tied for team-lead with six rounds in the 60s apiece. Kim opened the fall season with five in a row and ended her modest drought today thanks to a disciplined effort that included three birdies and no bogeys until 18.
Popov, who, like Park, finished fall play with a pair of top 3 finishes, was similarly consistent Monday with a birdie on 5 and just a bogey on 14.
Chen had a pair of birdies during the second round and was 2-under through 13 before a trio of late bogeys. Chung opened play with three straight bogeys but was able to maintain par the rest of the way.
Then, whose top fall finish was a 23rd, wasn't as sharp as she was on Sunday but birdies on 16 and 17 kept her in the top 20 and in the hunt for a season-best effort.
Action concludes Tuesday with a shotgun start at 8 a.m.