No. 1 USC Starts Strong In Weather-Shortened NCAA Championships Opener|
May 22, 2015
Junior Annie Park carded a 2-under 70 to lead the No. 1 USC women's golf team on the weather-shortened first day of the 2015 NCAA Championships on Friday (May 22) at the Concessions G.C. in Bradenton, Fla.
Battling hot and muggy weather as well as a challenging course, the Trojans combined for a 9-over 297. That was the second-best score of teams that finished, behind only Duke's 5-over 292.
Stanford led at 3-over while Baylor was third at 7-over when play was suspended at 7:15 p.m. ET after the second of two lightning delays. Though a handful of second-wave pairings had finished, many teams that started in the afternoon had more than half of the back 9 still to finish, including both the Cardinal and Bears.
USC, riding a string of nine consecutive top 5 finishes that includes two of its three NCAA titles, is gunning for a top 8 result over the four days of stroke play to advance to an eight-team match-play bracket. This is the first year the women's championship has been decided by this format. Quarterfinals and semifinals are set for May 26 while the final is May 27.
The Trojans' counting four players combined for 7-over on the front and 3-over on the back, thanks in part to a combined 4-under on the final two holes.
Park, the 2013 NCAA individual champion, found herself near the top of the leader board Friday thanks to her four-birdie, two-bogey performance. She birdied 5 and bogeyed 8 for an even front 9. After dropping to 1-over with a bogey on 10, she birdied 11 and 12 and got one more for good measure on the par 5 17th hole. She is tied for third at 2-under.
Junior Kyung Kim and sophomore Gabriella Then are tied for 32nd at 3-over 75. Then, in her NCAA Championships debut, opened with a birdie on 1 and sunk another on 15. Kim, in her third championship, was 2-over going out and was 5-over before closing with birdies on 17 and 18.
Sophomore Karen Chung, in her second NCAAs, is tied for 59th at 5-over 77. She was 3-over going out and 2-over coming home with three birdies. Freshman Amy Lee is tied for 111th at 10-over 82. She had three birdies as well.
"It's an incredibly demanding course that requires focus and patience," USC Coach Andrea Gaston said. "No hole is easy and hole locations were very difficult. The girls did a great job staying in the game. They knew they would make mistakes, but they kept fighting. I'm really happy with their finish."
The Trojans are scheduled to tee off again with South Carolina and UCLA on Saturday at 1:06 p.m. PT, a time that figures to be pushed back to accommodate today's delays.