Women's Golf
    No. 1 USC Set For Pac-12 Championships

    Junior Sophia Popov leads USC with five top 10 finishes this year.

    April 19, 2013

    The No. 1 USC women's golf team, whose active streak of seven consecutive NCAA top 5 finishes leads the country, begins the postseason at the 2013 Pac-12 Championships, Monday through Wednesday, (April 22-24), at the Valencia (Calif.) C.C.

    Teams will tee off on the 6,300-yard, par 72 course at 8:30 a.m. off No. 1 and No. 10 on Monday and Tuesday and will begin play on Wednesday at 8 a.m. USC, seeded first, will tee off Monday with No. 11 seed Colorado beginning at 8:10 a.m. off the first tee.

    Live results are available at Golfstat.com.

    In addition to top-ranked USC, other top 25 schools (according to Golfweek.com) include No. 6 Arizona, No. 8 UCLA, No. 11 Stanford, No. 13 Arizona State and No. 14 Washington

    USC has won two conference titles (2008 and 2011) in the past five seasons and has finished in the top 3 in the seven of the past eight events, including finishing second place in 2012 by one stroke. The Trojans have claimed four conference titles overall. They won Pac-10 crowns in 1989, 2008 and 2011 and won the Pacific West Conference title in 1986 (the last year before it became the Pac-10). Sophomore Doris Chen won the Pac-12 individual title - USC's fifth overall -- as a freshman last year, taking first at 1-over 217 (77-72-68) while junior Sophia Popov and then-senior Lisa McCloskey tied for fifth at 4-over 220 ... In 2011, 17th-year head coach Andrea Gaston led USC to a five-stroke win while then-freshman Popov won the individual title in a one-hole playoff. USC played the final round with only four players after McCloskey suffered a rib injury, yet the shorthanded Trojans had enough for the win. Popov finished at 6-under 210 (69-71-70) to become USC's fourth individual winner. Her string of birdies (when she knocked in five of seven between 7 and 13) helped her secure her seventh straight top 7 finish. In 2008, USC posted a dominating 26-stroke win for Gaston's first Pac-10 crown at Troy. Serving as host school, USC combined for an 8-over 860 (285-292-283) to win during a windy three-day event. Troy was led by senior Paola Moreno, who won USC's third individual championship with a 1-under 212 (70-75-67), the Trojans' best ever 54-hole total at a conference championship. She led five Trojan golfers who all finished in the top 8. Moreno joined USC's previous two individual Pac-10 title winners Candie Kung (2000) and Jennifer Biehn (1994) ... In addition to USC's four team titles, Troy has finished second or third nine other times, including in 2009, when the Trojans finished second when then-freshman Jennifer Song tied for first before falling in a playoff. Song went 5-under during the final seven holes of the Pac-10 Championships to get into a three-way playoff with Arizona's State's Carlotta Ciganda and Jennifer Osborn (Osborn won it on the first hole) ... Lizette Salas, as a sophomore in 2009, set USC's record for low round at the Pac-12 Championships with a final-round 65. Moreno (2008) and Anna Rawson (2001) were the previous record holders at 67.



    Within the USC-UCLA Crosstown Gauntlet competition, the season-long battle between Trojans and Bruins in all sports, points for women's golf are awarded to the highest finisher between the rivals at the Pac-12 Championships. Five points are up for grabs for women's golf. The winning school needs 57.5 points to clinch.

    The Trojans, winners of the 2003 and 2008 NCAA titles, finished second by one stroke to the Crimson Tide last season, the second time in three seasons the Trojans finished second by a lone shot. USC not only has seven straight top 5 NCAA finishes, but has eight in the past 10 years.

    The Trojans, under 17th-year NGCA Hall of Fame coach Andrea Gaston, are led by junior Sophia Popov and sophomore Doris Chen. Popov was a 2011 All-American first teamer and earned All-American honorable mention honors in 2012. Chen was an All-American first teamer in 2012. Each won conference titles as freshmen, Popov in 2011, Chen in 2012. Popov was named to Golf World's 2012 "Top 10" Female Players to Watch list while Chen was on its "Top 50" list. Also back is junior Rachel Morris, a 2011 NCAA All-Region performer who had a pair of top 20 finishes as a 2012 sophomore.

    Five freshmen have joined the squad to bolster the Trojan roster. The highly rated Kyung Kim of Chandler, Ariz., and Kim Santiago from Lynwood, Wash., joined the team in the fall while the talented trio of Annie Park from Levittown, N.Y., Ellie Chai from Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Victoria Morgan from Pasadena, Calif., were added to the squad in January.

    Kim is a four-time Rolex Junior All-American, twice as a first teamer, and the 2010 Arizona High School Player of the Year. She was also on Golf World's 2012 "Top 50" Female Players to Watch list. Santiago is a two-time AJGA Scholastic All-American. Park enters USC a semester early as a top 20 junior who played as an amateur at the 2012 U.S. Women's Open. Chai was a promising junior originally from New Orleans before moving to Los Angeles whose career was sidetracked due to a shoulder injury. She is healthy again and on the comeback trail. Morgan is an All-CIF performer who was the captain and MVP of her prep boys' team and was also an All-CIF tennis player.

    * Sophia Popov is tied for the school record for rounds in the 60s at 15 with Jennifer Song. Song did it in two seasons while Popov equaled the total in under three years. The school record for a season is eight. Popov is also Troy's active leader in wins with five, sharing the school career record with Irene Cho and Mikaela Parmlid.
    * The Trojans have already won four times this year, the most since winning five times in 2008. USC has finished first at the SDSU Farms and Bruin Wave Invitationals, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate and the Stanford Intercollegiate. It marks the seventh time in the past eight years USC has won two or more events in a season. It is also the seventh time in the last 10 and the 10th time in the last 14. Troy won five times in 2008, four each in 2003, 2010 and 2011 and three times in 1999.
    * Three different players have posted individual wins this year. Popov won at the recent SDSU Farms Invitational while freshman Annie Park won the event before at the Bruin Wave Invitational. Fellow freshman Kyung Kim won at the Stanford Intercollegiate. USC also has a combined 13 other top 10 finishes outside of those three firsts.
    * This is only the third year USC has had three different players each finish first at an event in at least 20 years. USC did it last season when McCloskey, Doris Chen and Popov and also had three winners in 2008 (Belen Mozo, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Paola Moreno).
    * USC features four players ranked in Golfweek.com's top 20, including Park at No. 1, Popov at No. 7, Kim at No. 14 and sophomore Doris Chen at No. 22. Junior Rachel Morris is ranked No. 56.
    * Popov has a team-best five top 10 finishes while Park and Kim each have four. Popov has finished no worse than 17th, Park no worse than 27th and Kim has been 23rd or better in all but one event. Chen has three top finishes and finished below 25th only once. Morris has two top 10s and four other finishes in the top 22.
    * Popov has a team-best four rounds in the 60s this year while Kim has three. Kim's 66 in the second round of the Stanford Intercollegiate is USC's low this year.
    * Popov leads USC with a stroke average of 72.18 while Kim is second (72.70) and Park third (72.73). The school season record is 71.55, set by Jennifer Song in 2009.
    * Popov led Germany to second place at the 2012 Women's World Amateur Team Championship, completed Sept. 30, in Antalya, Turkey. Popov, a two-time All-American as a Trojan, led Germany to a combined 10-under during four rounds of play, three back of first-place Korea. Popov, in fact, led the German team at 6-under 282 (72-70-72-68), good for sixth place. Former teammate and 2012 USC graduate and fellow All-American Lisa McCloskey tied for fourth at 7-under 281 (70-71-67-73). The U.S. finished eighth at 6-under.
    * In a weather-shortened one-round event, Park made her debut for the USC women's golf team with a third-place, par 72 while fellow frosh Ellie Chai also saw her first Trojan action at the 2013 Lady Bulldog Individual Championship at the University of Georgia G.C. in Athens, Ga., on Feb. 2. Playing on the same course that will host the NCAA Championships in May, Park finished three strokes behind winner Mia Piccio of Florida and one back of Furman's Laura Wearn. Chai finished tied for 28th with an 83.
    * Chen played as an amateur at the 2013 Kraft Nabisco Championship in the first week of April. She played the first two rounds at 7-over 151 (74-77) and missed the cut by two strokes. Former Trojan Lizette Salas tied for 25th (though she was tied for second heading into the final round) while her former USC teammate Belen Mozo tied for 41st. Other former Trojans that qualified for the major but missed the cut included Veronica Felibert, Jennifer Song, Nicole Castrale and Dewi Claire Schreefel.
    * Despite her final-round struggles, Salas entered the second week of April ranked No. 9 on the LPGA's money list during the young season and has three top 10 finishes. The next closest former Trojan is Candie Kung at 27th. Also in the top 100 are Castrale, Mozo, Schreefel, Song, Paola Moreno, Felibert and Jennifer Rosales.

    2012-2013 Event Recaps

    SDSU Farms Invitational, March 31-April 2
    Junior Sophia Popov won her USC record-tying fifth career individual title while her four teammates joined her in the top 10 as the Trojans' No. 1 women's golf team ran away with the SDSU Farms Invitational for its third straight win at The Farms G.C. in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. USC finished at a combined 11-over 875 (298-289-288) to win by 21 strokes over second-place Arizona (896) while Pepperdine was third (904). The victory was not only the Trojans' third in a row but the fourth in the past five events. The last time USC won three or more in a row was when the Trojans closed the 2008 season with four straight victories, a streak that culminated with the 2008 NCAA title. USC last won four times in a season in 2011. Popov finished at 1-over 217 (74-69-74) to claim her first title this year. She had three as a freshman and one as a sophomore. She was 2-under through 10 holes today before a bogey on 11 and a double on 16 helped Arizona's Manon Gidali -- in the same pairing as Popov - close to within one stroke. But Gildali was unable to make up the final stroke and settled for second.

    Bruin Wave Invitational, March 4-5
    Freshman Annie Park won her first career collegiate title and led a comeback effort as the No. 1 USC women's golf team erased an eight-hole deficit to begin the day to win its second event in a row and third this season at the Bruin Wave Invitational at the El Caballero C.C. in Tarzana, Calif. The Trojans, coming off of a win at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate in New Orleans last week, finished at 20-over 884 (290-301-293), two strokes ahead of second-place UCLA (22-over 886). USC entered the final round eight back of the Bruins. The last time USC won three times in a season was 2011. Park finished first at 1-under 215 (68-76-71), four better than second-place Marissa Chow of Pepperdine (3-over 219). After carding her first sub-70 round in yesterday's opening round before following it with a 76, the freshman put together a steady final round with 1-under 71. The finish marked her third top 10 finish and fourth in the top 18 in four events. Fellow freshman Kyung Kim notched her third top 10 finish in the past four events, tying for seventh at 7-over 223 (73-76-74). Her final round included four birdies.

    Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate, Feb. 22-24
    Junior Sophia Popov holed a seven-foot birdie try on the first playoff hole to give the No. 1 USC women's golf team the title at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate on at the English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans. USC (287-293) and UCLA (283-297) had tied at 4-over 580 after 36 holes of regulation play (bookending a rained out Monday), setting up Popov's winning putt on the 18th hole. The win, clinched during a final round made difficult by strong winds, is USC's second this year, its third top 2 finish in a row and its fifth top 3 finish in five outings. Popov tied for second at 2-under 142 (70-72) for her best finish of the season and her second in the top 5. After bogeying her opening hole (3) in the shotgun start, she finished with three birdies against two bogeys for the par round, one of only six rounds of par or better Tuesday in the 90-woman field. Freshman Annie Park tied for eighth at even 144 (71-73). With a 2nd hole start, she bogeyed three of her first four holes, but tightened things up and finished the final 14 holes at 2-under. It was her third top 18 finish in as many outings in her first semester of action.

    Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, Feb. 11-13
    A day after combining for the lowest round in tournament history in at least 13 years to take a one-stroke lead, the No. 1 USC women's golf team struggled to find the same the groove and finished second at the annual Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at the Palos Verdes (Calif.) G.C. USC finished at 27-over 879 (298-280-301), nine back of UCLA (870) and two better than third-place Duke (881). The Trojans lost ground also when junior Sophia Popov was disqualified due to a scorecard infraction. Freshman Kyung Kim, who won USC's final fall event, finished third at 3-over 216 (74-69-73), three out of first place. She opened play at 3-over through six holes but birdied 7 and 8 and was 1-over on the back 9. Freshman Annie Park, in her first team competition of her Trojan career, tied for 18th at 10-over 223 (72-76-75).

    Stanford Intercollegiate, Oct. 19-21
    Freshman Kyung Kim followed her second-round 66 with a final-round 68 to win her first collegiate title while leading No. 3 USC to a four-stroke team win at the Stanford (Calif.) Intercollegiate. USC finished its three-event fall schedule at a combined 5-over 857 (286-285-286) at Stanford, four better than second-place Washington (861) and 11 better than the host Cardinal (868). Kim, who claimed the solo lead with her 5-under second round, maintained her momentum in the final round with a 3-under round to finish 7-under 206 (72-66-68), three better than second place SooBin Kim of Washington (209). Sophomore Doris Chen finished a strong event tied for third at 1-under 212 (69-70-73) and had two birdies during her final round. It was her third top 16 finish of the fall.

    Fall Preview, Oct. 5-7
    Junior Sophia Popov used a 2-under 70 to finish tied for fifth while sophomore Doris Chen carded a par as No. 4 USC tied for fourth at the 2012 Liz Murphey Fall Preview at the University of Georgia G.C. in Athens. The Trojans tied for third at a combined 19-over 883 (295-297-291). North Carolina came from behind to win at 12-over 876 (297-289-290) while defending NCAA champion Alabama took second at 16-over 880 (296-289-295). USC caught and tied day two leader Auburn. Popov posted her second straight top 12 finish at even 216 (71-75-70), three strokes out of first. Chen also posted her second top 20 result in a row, tying for 16th at 3-over 219 (73-74-72). Popov had a four-birdie round and was 2-under on the back 9 while Chen had two birdies against two bogeys. Freshman Kyung Kim tied for 23rd at 5-over 221 (75-71-75).

    Cougar Classic, Sept. 9-11
    USC opened the 2012-13 season with a third-place finish at the College of Charleston "Cougar Classic" at the Yeamans Hall Club in Charleston, S.C., in September. Junior Sophia Popov and sophomore Doris Chen tied for 12th while freshman Kyung Kim tied for 14th. The Trojans finished a combined 1-under 863 (285-283-295). Florida, the second-round leader, went on to win at 12-under 852 while Duke finished second at 6-under 858. Popov (70-69-76) and Chen (72-71-72) tied for 12th at 1-under 215. Popov had two birdies in her final round while Chen paired four bogeys with four birdies.

    PING/ASU Invitational, April 12-14
    Juniors Rachel Morris and Sophia Popov tied for 10th, leading the No. 1 USC women's golf team as its three-tournament win streak was finally snapped during the final round of the PING/ASU Invitational at the Karsten G.C. in Tempe, Ariz. USC, a four-time winner this year, tied for fifth at 1-under 863 (283-288-292). Defending NCAA champion Alabama got hot in the final round and won at 19-under 845 (284-284-277), including a blistering final round of 11-under. No. 4 Duke finished second at 10-under 854 while Arizona and Stanford tied for third at 2-under 862. Morris tied for 10th at 3-under for the second event in a row while Popov followed her win two weeks ago with her fourth top 10 in a row. Popov (72-72-69) carded her third round in the 60s this year and the 15th of her career, tying USC's career record held by Jennifer Song. Her final round saw her go out at 1-over with a bogey, but come in with four birdies for a 3-under finish. Morris, who opened with a career best 68 and a second-round 70, finished with a 75. She was 1-under through 14 Sunday before some late stumbles dropped her to 3-over.