No. 5 USC Seeks Second Straight Win At Wildcat Inviational

Feb. 19, 2010

The No. 5 USC women's golf team, led by sophomore Jennifer Song, the nation's No. 1-ranked golfer, and junior Lizette Salas, ranked No. 5, will look to win its second consecutive tournament and the third of the season when it plays at the 2010 Wildcat Invitational, Sunday through Tuesday (Feb. 21-23) at the Arizona National G.C. in Tucson, Ariz.

The Women of Troy, under 14th-year coach Andrea Gaston, are part of a 17-team field that includes host No. 21 Arizona, No. 1 Arizona State, No. 3 Auburn, No. 13 California, No. 14 Denver, No. 8 Duke, New Mexico, No. 19 Oklahoma State, Oregon, No. 9 Pepperdine, No. 22 Stanford, No. 6Tennessee, Tulane, UNLV and Washington.

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USC returns four All-Americans overall in seniors Belen Mozo and Stefanie Endstrasser and Salas and Song. Including the 2003 and 2008 NCAA titles, USC has finished in the NCAA Championships' top 4 in five of the past seven years. In fact, the Trojans, who finished third in 2009, have reached the NCAA Championships 12 times in a row under Gaston and have been in the top 7 nine times.

The Trojans in 2009-2010

Sophomore Jennifer Song won individual titles in USC's first two events in the fall, the Mason Rudolph Challenge (1-under 132-66-66) and the Stanford Intercollegiate (8-under 205-67-71-67). She did not compete in USC's other two fall events after receiving an LPGA Tour playing exemption into the Hana Bank - KOLON Championship in Incheon, South Korea ... Song, who this past summer became only the second woman to win both the U.S. Women's Amateur and the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links in the same year, has also received an invitation to compete as an amateur in April at the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA's first major of the season ... In her first spring event, Song tied for second at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at 1-over 214 (67-75-72) ... In only eight five collegiate rounds this year, two have been 66s and three were 67s. She has a stroke average of 68.88, tops in the nation. She broke USC's stroke average as a freshman at 71.55, leading the nation last year ... She has 12 career rounds in the 60s, tying the USC record with senior Belen Mozo and former Trojan Irene Cho.

Junior Lizette Salas, a two-time All-American and a first teamer as a sophomore who spent much of last season ranked among the top 2 in the country, is second on the squad this year in stroke average at 71.73 and won USC's last fall event, the Turtle Bay Collegiate Invitational. Salas won the Turtle Bay with an 8-under 208 and also tied for 12th at the NCAA Fall Preview. She opened the spring season with a fifth at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, her third straight top 12 finish. Last year, Salas finished under-par in eight of 10 events. Her stroke average of 71.82 was fifth best in the country and the second best ever at USC.

Senior Belen Mozo, bothered by a shoulder injury since the end of her junior season, appears healthy again and ready to help the Trojans make a run at their third NCAA crown. The three-time All-American played in the Stanford Intercollegiate and the NCAA Fall Preview in the fall but had to withdraw from the latter due to her injury. She became USC's fourth three-time All-American last year, earning first-team honors in 2008, second in 2009 and honorable mention in 2007 ... At the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, she tied for 12th. She has 12 career rounds in the 60s, tied for the most ever at USC with sophomore Jennifer Song and former Trojan Irene Cho.

Senior Caroline Kim has seen her role increase in the past two seasons with the Trojans and is looking to make the most of the opportunity. Kim is one of only two USC golfers who has played in each event for the Trojans this year, her season highlighted so far by a tie for 30th at the Mason Rudolph Championship. Sophomore Inah Park, like Kim, has played in each event this year and is steadily improving. She tied for 30th with Kim at the Mason Rudolph and tied for 33rd at the Northrop Grumman.

Senior Stephanie Endstrasser saw limited action in the fall, but finished on a high note, tying for 21st at the Turtle Bay Collegiate. Freshman Cyna Rodriguez has provided a solid lift for the Trojans. Her highest finish this season is a tie for 24th at the Turtle Bay Collegiate.

2009-2010 EVENT RECAPS

At the rain-shortened Mason Rudolph earlier this year, USC, which began the final round tied for first with Auburn at 10-under, didn't card the lowest round of the day, but its 6-under 282 was good enough to take the two-round title at 16-under 560 (278-282). The win was USC's first since winning the 2008 national championship. Jennifer Song won the individual title, her first solo title as a collegiate player (she tied for first at the Pac-10 Championships). Song fired a pair of 6-under 66s to win the event at 12-under 132 (66-66), three strokes better than Vanderbilt's Alex Marina and Auburn's Cydney Clanton (who were tied at 135).

USC finished fifth, but sophomore Jennifer Song fired her fourth sub-70 round in five tries (through two events) and her final-round 67 was good enough to finish at 8-under 205 (67-71-67) to secure a three-stroke victory. She was 1-under through the front nine and remained 1-under through 14 holes. Song then birdied 15, 16 and 18 to go to 8-under. Her 205 was the third-lowest round in program history. Senior Belen Mozo, playing in her first event of the year following off-season shoulder surgery, tied for 33rd at 7-over 220 (75-70-75).

Junior Lizette Salas tied for 12th to lead USC at the 2009 UNCW Fall Preview at the Country Club of Landfall's Pete Dye Course in Wilmington, N.C. Playing the event without the nation's No. 1 player, Jennifer Song, Troy finished 16th at 52-over 319 (288-309-319). Duke took first at 17-over 881. The Trojans were handcuffed because senior Belen Mozo had to withdraw from the final round, leaving Troy without a score to drop. Salas finished at 4-over 220 while sophomore Inah Park tied for 50th at 13-over 229 (72-76-81).

Junior Lizette Salas fired an 8-under 208 (71-67-70) to win medalist honors and lead USC to a third-place finish at the Turtle Bay Invitational in Kahuku, Hawaii, in November. The Trojans finished the event at 15-over 879 (291-290-298), 11 shots behind winner UC Davis (868). USC played without All-American Jennifer Song for the second straight event. USC was also without senior Belen Mozo, who was nursing a shoulder injury. Salas was 2-over through the first eight holes of her final round, but a birdie on 9 provided the momentum for a strong finish as she birdied three more times to clinch first place.

Sophomore Jennifer Song tied for second while junior Lizette Salas was fifth to lead USC to its first ever win at the Northrop Regional Challenge in the spring's first event. USC finished at 24-over 876 (284-296-296), holding off a Pepperdine team (879-295-287-297) that had won the tournament three times in the past seven years. The three-stroke win was USC's second of the season. Song finished at 1-over 214 (67-75-72) while Salas was 5-over 217 (72-73-73). Song was 5-over after six holes but the nation's top-ranked golfer gathered herself and finished the final 12 holes at 4-under without a bogey. Salas recorded her second straight top 5 finish (and third in the top 12). Senior Belen Mozo turned in her best effort of the season, a tie for 12th.

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