May 24, 2013
2013 NCAA Women's Golf Final Round/Championship Celebration Photo Gallery
No. 1 USC won its third NCAA team title and freshman Annie Park claimed Troy's fourth individual NCAA crown - both in dominating fashion - as the Trojans completed a remarkable postseason run on the final day of the 2013 NCAA Women's Golf Championships at the University of Georgia G.C. in Athens, Ga., on Friday (May 24).
The Trojans finished at 19-under 1133 (284-276-285-288), shattering the previous NCAA Championship record for most strokes under par, which was previously four (UCLA, 2004).
USC began the day with a 17-stroke lead over second-place Duke and finished with a 21-shot margin of victory, the biggest at the NCAA Championships since Arizona won by the same amount in 2000. Duke finished second at 2-over 1154 while Purdue was third at 21-over 1173.
The Trojans remarkably placed all five players in the top 17. In addition to Park at the top at 10-under 278 (70-67-70-71), freshman Kyung Kim (74-69-69-77) and junior Sophia Popov (71-70-74-74) tied for sixth at 1-over 289, sophomore Doris Chen tied for 15th at 4-over 292 (72-78-72-70) and junior Rachel Morris tied for 17th at 5-over 293 (71-70-79-73). Park and Popov's scorers counted all four days, Chen and Morris counted three times and Kim - the only Trojan with two rounds in the 60s this week - counted twice.
"It was definitely an awe-inspiring victory today," said USC 17th-year head Andrea Gaston. "I know that our team broke a number of records at this tournament. These girls just played amazing. I know that all year long, they've worked extremely hard, been very dedicated and relentless in their work ethic. I also know that Justin Silverstein, our assistant coach, was a huge part of our success this year. We just have an incredible support staff, and I'm very thankful that they all played a very important role, and this truly is a team victory.
"I know Annie (Park) is proud to win the individual title, but I think this team win means a lot more to her than anything else, and obviously to this team. I'm extremely proud of them and so honored to be here and celebrating this victory."
The NCAA title extended USC's season-win record to seven and followed victories in the 2013 NCAA West Regional and the 2013 Pac-12 Championships. The NCAA crown complements Trojan national titles in 2003 (by 15 strokes) and 2008 (by six strokes) and is USC's sixth win in the past seven events this year.
After losing NCAA titles by one stroke in 2012 (to Alabama) and in 2010 (to Purdue), the Trojans enjoyed today's comfortable margin, though it was not without some nerves.
"It was still a nail-biting round. When you've got the wind blowing, it's not in our control, but these girls know what their doing, they've played in all kinds of conditions," Gaston said. "To me, no lead is ever big enough, and you have to take care of business out there. I think we might have started to enjoy the ride a little bit by maybe the 14th hole. I definitely wanted to get through part of the back nine, and I knew we turned very comfortably, but there is no big lead when you have conditions like this. You just want to continue to play aggressive, which is the way we've been playing the last few days. I just saw so much fight in all of these girls."
USC opened the final round in steady fashion and never saw its lead dip under the 17 strokes that it started with. Park and Chen each went through the front 9 at 1-under while Popov was even.
Kim and Morris struggled a bit on the front, but Kim, though her round didn't count today, rallied to finish the back 9 at par. Morris, meanwhile, finished the final nine holes at 2-under, including a stretch of four birdies over the final five holes.
Chen got home at 1-under on the back 9, Popov at 2-over and Park at even. Park briefly flirted with the NCAA record for most under par for 72 holes, set at 12 in 1983 and 2010. Park got to 13-under after back-to-back birdies on 13 and 14 before experiencing her only tough stretch of the tournament, going bogey, double bogey, bogey between 15 and 17. She redeemed herself with a birdie on 18 after just missing a putt for eagle.
Park, just the seventh freshman to win an NCAA individual title, joins USC's previous NCAA individual champions Jennifer Rosales (1998), Mikaela Parmlid (2003) and Dewi Claire Schreefel (2006). Rosales won by three strokes, Parmlid won in a playoff while Schreefel won by two strokes.
"I had a tough beginning today, trying to make some pars," said Park, whose closest competitor, Duke's Lindy Duncan, finished six shots behind at 4-under. "I had some birdies going on later, but then I also had some bogeys after that. It definitely feels great ending with a birdie. The result was very unexpected for myself. I was just trying to play my best each round and each shot. It turned out to be good and it feels great."
Park's win is her fourth of the year and her third in row after she matched USC's team wins at the Pac-12s and NCAA West Regional (where she tied for first). Her four wins equals USC's school record for season wins with Irene Cho (2006) and Parmlid (2003). She is just the second NCAA woman to win a conference, regional and NCAA title. The other is Arizona's Marisa Baena in 1996.
Park was also named 2013 WGCA Player and Freshman of the Year at the championship banquet later that evening.
USC is now one of only five schools with at least three NCAA team titles. Arizona State has seven, Duke has five while USC joins San Jose State and UCLA at three.
"It was pretty brutal last year losing by one stroke. This year, it was extremely comfortable," Popov said. "We all just played really well and it's great having that lead going into the final round. It's great to have that security knowing that I have four players that have my back (if I don't have a great round). The depth of this team really helped this year. It was fun playing with them."
USC became the first school to post the low round each day since 1982.
USC extended its NCAA leading streak of top 5 NCAA finishes to 8 and has 14 top 5 finishes overall, tied for second most with UCLA. Arizona State has the most at 16.
USC now has four NCAA individual titles, tied for second most with Arizona. Arizona State has five.
Annie Park's win marks USC's 10th top 5 NCAA finish.
USC's second-round 276 set the NCAA Championship record for low round and was the second-best round in school history.