Women's Golf
    No. 3 USC To Defend Title At Pac-12 Championships

    Senior Inah Park will be making her second career conference championships appearance.

    April 25, 2012

    The No. 3 USC women's golf team, featuring returning All-Americans Lisa McCloskey and Sophia Popov, will look to repeat as conference champions at the first-ever Pac-12 Championships at the Palouse Ridge G.C. in Pullman, Wash., Friday through Sunday (April 27-29).

    The Trojans have won once this season, finished in the top 3 four times and in the top 5 six times. Teams will begin play off the 1st and 10th holes beginning at 8:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and at 8 a.m. on Sunday. USC will join Colorado and Oregon State to begin play Friday.

    The Pac-12 is regularly the deepest conference in the nation and this season is no different. In addition to the third-ranked Trojans, the league features No. 1 UCLA, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 9 Arizona, No. 11 Colorado, No. 15 Arizona, No. 19 Oregon and No. 23 Washington. Stanford is No. 40, Oregon State No. 52 and host Washington State No. 82. Utah does not field a team.

    Click here for Washington State's Pac-12 Championships page.
    Click here for the Pac-12 Women's Golf Championships home page.
    Click here for live results at Golfstat.com.

    USC is the defending conference champions, has won twice (2008 and 2011) in the past four seasons and has finished in the top 3 in the six of the past seven events. 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). In 2011, head coach Andrea Gaston, now in her 16th year as Trojan head coach, led USC to a five-stroke win while then-freshman Sophia Popov won the individual title in a one-hole playoff. USC played the final round with only four players after then-junior Lisa 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 titles, Troy has finished second or third eight 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 ... USC has limited conference championship experience. In addition to Popov's win and McCloskey's withdrawal due to injury, Park's only appearance was as a freshman (tying for 24th) in 2009 while Morris debuted as a freshman last year with a tie for 29th. Freshman Doris Chen will debut this year.



    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, 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. 22 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 is third on the team in stroke average (73.61). Her win at Rancho Bernardo was the fourth of her career, one shy of USC's career record (held by Irene Cho).

    McCloskey, who leads the team in stroke average (72.39), led USC in the fall with three top 10 finishes and has six in eight events this year. Ranked No. 12, she 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), took third at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate at 3-under 213 (71-71-71) and was 10th at the PING/ASU Invitational at 3-over 216 (73-74-69). She finished a USC career best second at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate at 6-under 210 (71-70-69). Her three rounds in the 60s are a season-high for the Trojans.

    Freshman Doris Chen has played in five events and already boasts four top 11 finishes and another in the top 20, moving to No. 19 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), tied for ninth at the Battle at Rancho Bernardo at 3-over 147 (73-74) and tied for 11th at the PING/ASU Invitational. She is second on the team with a stroke average of 72.71 and has not finished outside the top 30 this year.

    Senior Inah Park, ranked No. 61, has five top 20 finishes in eight starts this year posted a career effort at the recent Pacific Coast Intercollegiate. Her tie for third, overall 2-under 214 and final-round 67 were all career bests. She has also tied for 16th at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, 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. She also tied for 28th at the Pacific Coast 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).

    2012 PING/ASU Invitational, March 30-April 1
    Senior Lisa McCloskey fired a 2-under 69 to lead No. 3 USC into the top 5 after the final round of the 2012 PING/ASU Invitational at the ASU Karsten G.C. in Tempe, Ariz. USC combined for a final round 293, tied for third-best of the day, to move into a tie for fifth at 29-over 881 (289-299-293). UCLA finished first at 5-over 857 while host ASU was second at 17-over 869. McCloskey notched her team-best fifth top 10 finish with a final-round 69 to finish at 3-over 216 (73-74-69). Starting on the 10th hole, she opened with a double bogey but got back to par for the front 9 with birdies on 15 and 17, the start of a streak of six birdies over nine holes. Freshman Doris Chen just missed collecting her fourth straight top 10 finish, tying for 11th at 4-over 217 (72-73-72). In a steady final round, she had two bogeys against one birdie.

    2012 Pacific Coast Intercollegiate, April 14-15
    Senior Lisa McCloskey finished a season-best second while senior Inah Park posted a career-best tie for third to lead a hard-charging No. 3 USC women's golf team to second place at the 2nd Annual Pacific Coast Intercollegiate to close the regular season at the Half Moon Bay (Calif.) G.C. The Trojans began the day trailing leader UCLA by 14 strokes, but thanks to a 10-under final round, USC finished only six out. All told, USC wrapped up at 9-under 855 (290-287-278) behind only UCLA's 15-under 849 (280-283-286). Stanford was third (868). McCloskey took second at 6-under 210 (71-70-69), three back of first-place Erynne Lee of UCLA. McCloskey's second place was not only a season-best finish and her best effort as a Trojan in two seasons, but marked her sixth top 10 finish of the year. She had three birdies on the day and completed her second bogey-free round in a row. Going back to the first round, she finished the final 45 holes of the course without a bogey. Park's final round 67 helped her tie for third at 2-under 214 (72-75-67). Her third round, 54-hole total and overall finish were all career-best efforts for the senior. She had six birdies on the day, the only blemish coming on a bogey on 17.