Shorthanded Trojans Rally To Make NCAA Finals

May 16, 2009

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Playing without injured All-American Jamie Lovemark - and the safety net of a fifth player -- the No. 3 USC men's golf team turned a potential disastrous situation into a rallying cry and managed to secure a berth into the NCAA Championship finals by taking fifth on the final day of the NCAA West Regional on Saturday (May 16) at the Lake Merced G.C. in Daly City, Calif.

A combined 81 teams played concurrently at six NCAA regions and only the top five out of each field will advance to the NCAA Championships final, May 26-30, at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

USC finished a combined 11-under 853 (285-284-284), one stroke ahead of sixth-place New Mexico (854-280-292-282) and four ahead of San Diego State (857-286-287-284). The Trojans, who started the day in fifth, fell behind both teams early but managed to rally on the back 9, where they were a combined 5-under.

Arizona State ran away with the regional title at 36-under 828 (279-275-274), nine shots better than second-place Oregon's 27-under 837 (282-278-277). Texas A&M was third at 24-under 840 (281-286-273) while University of San Diego was fourth at 15-under 849 (288-278-283).

The Trojans, without Lovemark Saturday because of a muscle tear in his rib section (which affected his play Thursday and Friday), got big days from different team members each round. The first round saw sophomore Matt Giles go 7-under and senior Tom Glissmeyer was 5-under Friday. On Saturday, freshman Steve Lim turned in a season-best 6-under while sophomore Tim Sluiter went 3-under.

Third-year coach Chris Zambri had nothing but praise for the way the Trojans rallied Saturday to qualify for the team's third straight NCAA final.

'I'm proud of these guys,' Zambri said. 'It was unbelievable what they did today. Especially Steve Lim. He was off the charts. A 66. It was the round of the year for us. Not even close.

'Tim did really well and Matt held on for us. Tom had a tough day, but he kept it together and kept his head in it. Every stroke mattered and I'm just really proud of the guys. It gives us a chance (at the NCAA finals).'

Lim was 1-over after five holes before catching fire, going 7-under over the final 13 holes. He birdied 6, 8 and 9 and again on 13 before knocking in an eagle on 15. After a bogey on 16, he finished with two more birdies. Lim vaulted to 17th with the strong finish at 4-under 212 (72-74-66), his final round his third round in the 60s this year.

Sluiter tied for 31st at even 216 (77-70-69). After an even front 9 and a bogey on 10, he birdied four out of his remaining eight holes, including 16 and 17, to finish the round 3-under.

Giles tied for seventh at 7-under 209 (65-72-72), nailing down his seventh top 7 finish on the year. He was par on both the front and back 9, but birdies on 14 and 16 helped sustain USC's rally down the stretch.

Glissmeyer tied for 39th at 1-over 217 (72-68-77). The senior started out about as rough as he could imagine, 6-over after four holes, but he showed his grit by rallying to 1-under the rest of the way.

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