Women's Golf
    No. 3 USC Takes On PING/ASU Invitational

    Sophia Popov is ranked No. 2 by Golfweek.com

    March 27, 2012

    The USC women's golf team, featuring returning All-Americans Lisa McCloskey and Sophia Popov and ranked No. 3 by Golf World and Golfweek.com, will play at the 2012 PING/ASU Invitational Friday through Sunday (March 28-30) at the ASU Karsten G.C. in Tempe, Ariz.

    The Trojans and host Arizona State will be joined by Arizona, LSU, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, San Diego State, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, UC Davis, UCLA, UNLV, Vanderbilt and Washington.

    Live results are available at Golfstat.com. USC was second last year while Popov won the individual crown with a 5-under 211.

    The Trojans, who have finished in the NCAA top 5 six years in a row and in seven of the past nine seasons, return four golfers from the 2011 squad that tied for fifth at the 2011 NCAA Championships and that won four tournaments, including the 2011 Pac-10 Championships and the 2011 NCAA West Regional.

    Leading the mix is McCloskey, a senior, and Popov, a sophomore who was the national and Pac-10 freshman of the year last season. Also back are senior Inah Park and sophomore Rachel Morris (2011 All-NCAA West Region), both of whom registered multiple starts as well. USC bolstered its lineup with freshman Doris Chen, a former U.S. Girls' Junior champion.

    The Trojans are led by 16th-year head coach Andrea Gaston, who was named the National Golf Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 2011 for the second time in here career after leading USC to four wins on the season.

    Popov, ranked No. 2 in the nation by Golfweek.com, has a pair of top 2 finishes this year, three in the top 8 and four in the top 16. She opened the year with a tie for eighth at the Mason Rudolph at 2-over 218 (72-72-74) but was injured in USC's second event, ending her fall campaign. She regained her form in the spring, taking second at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at 1-over 214 (74-73-67), tying for 16th at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate and winning the rain-shortened Battle at Rancho Bernardo with a 2-under 142 (71-71). She has a team-best 72.42 stroke average. Her win at Rancho Bernardo was the fourth of her career, one shy of USC's career record (held by Irene Cho).



    McCloskey, who is third on the team in stroke average (72.88), led USC in the fall with three top 10 finishes and has four in six events this year. Ranked No. 17, she is tied for seventh at the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge at 1-over 217 (74-72-71), tied for eighth at the Mason Rudolph Fall Preview at 2-over 218 (73-73-72), tied for 10th at the Stanford Intercollegiate at 2-under 211 (72-67-72) and took third at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate at 3-under 213 (71-71-71).

    Freshman Doris Chen has played in four events and already boasts three top 10 finishes and another in the top 20 and has moved to No. 13 in the country. After tying for 20th at the Stanford Intercollegiate in her only fall action, she has tied for 10th at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at 8-over 221 (72-71-78), finished seventh at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate at 1-over 217 (72-71-74) and tied for ninth at the Battle at Rancho Bernardo at 3-over 147 (73-74). She is second on the team with a stroke average of 72.67.

    Senior Inah Park, ranked No. 56, has four top 20 finishes in six starts this year. She tied for 16th at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge and tied for 20th at both the Stanford Intercollegiate and the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, and posted a season-best tie for 15th at the Battle at Rancho Bernardo at 5-over 149 (75-74).

    Sophomore Rachel Morris has one top 20 finish, tying for 16th at the Stanford Intercollegiate, and tied for 35th at the Battle at Rancho Bernardo.

    2011-2012 Event Recaps

    2011 Fall Preview, Sept. 23-25
    In its first event of the season, USC finished eighth in the 2011 Fall Preview at 24-over 888 (292-300-296). Sophia Popov and Lisa McCloskey tied for eighth to lead the Trojans, who finished 15 strokes back of first place. Popov (72-72-74) and McCloskey (73-73-72) each finished at 2-over 212, six shots out of first.

    2011 Stanford Intercollegiate, Oct. 14-16
    Senior Lisa McCloskey tied for 10th, sophomore Rachel Morris fired a 2-under 69 to tie for 16th and freshman Kristen Park, playing individually, tied for fourth as shorthanded USC finished sixth overall at the 2011 Stanford Intercollegiate. USC, competing without sophomore Sophia Popov, who bowed out of the tournament after suffering a wrist injury in the second round, finished at 4-over 852 (284-280-288), 10 strokes behind first-place UCLA (842). Park was USC's top player of the weekend, though her scores didn't count toward the Trojans' totals because she was entered into the event individually. She finished at 6-under 207 (70-79-68), seven back of Washington's SooBin Kim (200). Park's final round saw her birdie four times against one bogey. McCloskey finished at 2-under 211 (72-67-72). Her final round featured a bogey on 9 and 17 pars. Morris' 69 was her best as a Trojan. She was 1-over after 11 holes before three consecutive birdies between 12 and 14.

    2011 SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, Sept. 23-25
    Freshman Kristen Park fired a 4-under 68 while senior Lisa McCloskey was also under par as the duo finished tied for seventh and led the short-handed USC women's golf team to a tie four fourth place at the 2011 SEC/Pac-12 Challenge at the Holston Hills C.C. in Knoxville, Tenn. The Trojans, playing with only four players due to injuries and scheduling conflicts, combined for the low round of the day at 1-under 287 and tied for fourth at 16-over 880 (298-295-287), 15 strokes back of first-place Alabama (865). UCLA was second at 869, Auburn was third (879) and Tennessee tied with USC. Both Park (76-73-68) and McCloskey (74-72-71) finished at 1-over 217 for their seventh-place tie. It was McCloskey's third straight top 10 finish and Park's second in a row.

    2012 Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Feb. 13-15
    Sophia Popov fired a season-best 67 and she and the No. 4 USC women's golf team both posted season-best second-place finishes at the 2012 Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. The Trojans, the two-time defending champions of the event, tied for low round of the dreary, wet finale at 10-over 294 and finished at 30-over 882 (297-291-284), 12 back of first-place UCLA (870). Pepperdine was third (887) with Arizona State fourth (891). Popov, who finished only one event in the fall after suffering an injury, took second at 1-over 214 (74-73-67), four back of winner Lindy Duncan of Duke (210). Popov tied the low-round of the 54-hole event with her 4-under 67. She posted seven birdies on the day, including a stretch of four in five holes between 5 and 9. Freshman Doris Chen finished a collegiate-best tied for 10th at 8-over 221 (72-71-78). She was even through the front 9 Wednesday but struggled coming home.

    2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate, Feb. 26-28
    Senior Lisa McCloskey finished third while freshman Doris Chen took seventh - both season bests -- as the duo led the No. 4 USC women's golf team to its second top 3 finish in a row at the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate in New Orleans. The Trojans, who led by four strokes heading into the final round, gave up too much ground on the final day in a tightly packed field and finished at 17-over 881 (293-292-296). Duke came back from four down to win at 13-over 877 (295-294-288) while Colorado moved into second at 16-over 880 (297-293-290). McCloskey turned in her fourth top 10 outing in five events this year by taking third at 3-under 213 (71-71-71). In a steady final round, she birdied 6 and 17 with a bogey on 14 and finished two back of Colorado's Alex Stewart (5-under 211). Chen finished seventh at 1-over 217 (72-71-74). She had two birdies on the day and was 1-over on both the front and back 9. It's her second top 10 finish in a row.

    2012 Battle at Rancho Bernardo, March 19-20
    Sophomore Sophia Popov fired a final-round 71 to secure her first win this season while freshman Doris Chen joined her in the top 10 as the duo led the No. 3 USC women's golf team to its first victory of the season at the San Diego State/Battle at Rancho Bernardo (Calif.). USC finished with a combined 14-over 590 (295-295) during the 54-hole event that was turned into a 36-hole affair after the first round was washed out by rain Sunday. The Trojans opened the final round tied for second, two back of first, but a solid team outing churned out USC's first team win since the 2011 NCAA West Regional. Arizona State took second at 16-over 592 (295-297) with Texas A&M third (596). Popov collected her fourth career win - one off the school record -- and first this season at 2-under 142 (71-71). It's also her third top 10 mark this year and fourth in the top 16. Chen registered her third straight top 10 finish at 3-over 147 (73-74).