No. 3 USC Advances To NCAA Championshp Final

May 9, 2009

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Needing a Top 8 finish in its NCAA Championship West Regional for a chance to defend its 2008 NCAA title, No. 3 USC did what it needed to do, finishing in second place at the Karsten G.C. in Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday (May 9) to earn a berth into the NCAA Championship final.

Overall, the top eight teams in each of the 21-team NCAA East, Central and West Regionals (plus two individuals from each field) will advance to the championship round, scheduled for May 19-22 at the Caves Valley G.C. in Owings Mills, Md.

Winner of the 2003 and 2008 NCAA crowns, the Trojans saw their three-year NCAA Region winning streak come to the end as Arizona State, playing on its home course, ran away with the region at 22-under 842 (273-283-286).

But with all of the top 8 finishers moving on, Troy's second-place finish at 3-under 861 (289-283-289) was more than enough to advance to its 12th consecutive NCAA final field.

'It was a tight field,' USC 13th-year head coach Andrea Gaston said. 'The course conditions, outside of being very hot, were ideal. The course didn't play very difficult, which closed the gap of all the teams. I was a little bit surprised to be tied for fifth after the first round. We wanted to improve over the next two days and separate ourselves, which we did

'Jennifer (Song) is turning in some great scores and seems to be peaking. Lizette wasn't at her best, but it certainly wasn't a bad week. It's a tough game. When you're competing at a high level, there's a lot of pressure players put on themselves and you can't be top 10 each week.

'We need to continue and peak and get better. We're encouraged and looking forward for a chance to defend our title.'

Song, who reached a playoff at the 2009 Pac-10 Championships, took second at the West Regional at 9-under 207 (72-67-68) tying for the fourth-lowest 54-hole total in school history. Her final round 4-under 68 was also her team best seventh round in the 60s this year. Song, whose 67 Friday was a season-best, filled her scorecard with nothing but pars through 12 holes, but birdied holes 13-16 to charge into second place.

Belen Mozo finished fifth at 5-under 211 (66-70-75) for her third top 10 finish on the season. She had a solid final round with just a pair of hiccups on 11 and 15.

Salas tied for 18th at 1-over 217 (73-71-73), her streak of top 10 finishes over, though she still turned in three counting rounds during the tournament. Salas's final round included three birdies against four bogeys.

Freshman Inah Park tied for 66th at 12-over 228 (78-77-73), her final round tying her second-best record on the year. Sophomore Caroline Kim tied for 74th at 14-over 230 (79-75-76).

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