USC, Moreno Capture Pac-10 Titles
April 23, 2008
No. 3 USC served as home school for the 2008 Pac-10 Women's Golf Championships. But after graciously hosting its conference rivals for most of the week, the Trojans made sure to keep all of the real prizes to themselves.
Behind inspired play throughout the lineup, the Women of Troy won their first Pac-10 title since 1989 while senior Paola Moreno won USC's third individual crown on the final day of the Pac-10 Championships on Wednesday (April 23) at Palos Verdes (Calif.) G.C
USC entered the day with a nine-stroke lead over second-place UCLA and kept building on it throughout a windy 18-hole round. By the time Moreno sunk her final putt, the Women of Troy finished with an 8-over 860 (285-292-283), 26 shots ahead of the second place Bruins (34-over 886-284-302-300). Arizona State, which joins USC and UCLA in the national top 5 rankings, was third at 39-over 891 (296-294-301).
The title is USC's first under 12th-year Head Coach Andrea Gaston, who led Troy to the NCAA title in 2003 but hadn't guided it to better than third at the Pac-10 Championships.
"I had no idea actually how well they were playing until I looked at the scores in the end," Gaston said. "All of them in the top eight, that's just great golf. There's no doubt these girls can come out and play on any given day."
Troy last won the Pac-10 title in 1989 while Moreno's individual crown is USC's first since Candie Kung in 2000. Jennifer Biehn's won the Trojan's other solo title in 1994.
Moreno led USC's quintet in the top 8 with a final round 67 that featured all pars on the front 9 and birdies on four of the first six holes on the back 9 (and five overall). She hit three in a row on 10, 11 and 12. She finished the tournament at 1-under 212 (70-75-67).
The Colombian senior who was an All-American first teamer as a 2007 junior, hadn't finished better than a tie for 10th as a senior. Moreno was frustrated Tuesday by finishing her second round with a pair of bogeys, but didn't let it bother her on Wednesday, playing steady through tough conditions.
"When I made the last putt, I had no idea I won," said Moreno, who hadn't won since March of 2007. "I had no clue at all. No one had said a thing, the coaches didn't tell me (I was leading). No one had made a gesture, nothing.
"It's great to win as a team. That's the big part. To win individually is a bonus. I'm really happy and proud of the team."
Said Gaston: "It's special for Paola. She was in the zone today. If she can keep it going, what a great way to end her senior season."
Sophomore Belen Mozo began the day tied for first, but after an 8 on the par-4 third hole, it looked like she might be destined for a rough day. But the happy-go-lucky Spaniard maintained her poise to finish tied for third at 4-over 217 (71-71-75). She birdied the 7th and 9th holes to gain some momentum and played solid on the back 9.
"We've been waiting for this moment," Mozo said. "That we did it as hosts is special."
Senior Dewi Claire Schreefel joined Mozo is a tie for third at 217 (74-74-69), turning in one of her best performances of the season. Coming off a win in her last event, she opened the tournament with a pair of 74s, but birdied four times during her final round.
"This is awesome," Schreefel said. "To do this as a senior, it was the right time to do it. We prepared well and stayed in the moment. We had a nine-stroke lead, but on this course with UCLA in second, anything can happen. We kept our poise and got it done."
Freshman Lizette Salas finished sixth at 5-over 218 (71-74-73) for her second highest result of the season. She had four birdies on the day.
Sophomore Stefanie Endstrasser rounded out USC's brilliant effort, taking eighth at 7-over 220 (73-73-74). Like Mozo, she overcame an 8, hers on the par 5 7th hole. She went 1-under on the back 9 for her highest finish of the season.
In addition to Pac-10 bragging rights, also on the line were points toward the USC-UCLA Lexus Gauntlet competition, the season-long battle between Trojans and Bruins in all sports. Points for women's (and men's) golf are awarded to the highest finisher between the crosstown rivals at the Pac-10 Championships. Five points went to USC, upping its lead to 52.5-37.5 on the season.