No. 4 USC Aims For Pac-10 Championships
April 14, 2010
The No. 4 USC women's golf team (Golf World), a three-time tournament winner this season led by sophomore Jennifer Song, the nation's No. 2-ranked golfer, and junior Lizette Salas, ranked No. 12, will seek its fourth conference title in program history at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships, Monday through Wednesday (April 19-21) at the Eugene (Ore.) C.C.
USC boasts four All-Americans on its 2010 roster, including 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.
2010 PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS INFORMATION
The 2010 Pac-10 Championships features four teams ranked in the top 10 of both major golf polls and six teams ranked in the top 20. Arizona State and UCLA are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, by Golf World and Golfweek. USC is ranked No. 4/5, Arizona is No. 8/6, Stanford is No. 13/15 and California is No. 17/16.
A practice round is set for noon on Sunday (April 18) while the first and second rounds on Monday and Tuesday are scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday's final round will begin at 8 a.m.
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-10 Championships. Five points are up for grabs for women's golf. The winning school needs 57.5 points to clinch. USC currently leads 42.5-35.
USC'S PAC-10 HISTORY
USC, which has finished in the top 3 in the past five Pac-10 Championships, has won three conference titles in program history. The Trojans claimed Pac-10 crowns in 1989 and 2008 and won the Pacific West Conference title in 1986 (the last year before it became the Pac-10). In 2008, head coach Andrea Gaston, now in her 14th year as Trojan head coach, led USC to a dominating 26-stroke win for her 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 three 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 over the final seven holes of the Pac-10 Championships last year 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 last year, set USC's record for low round at the Pac-10 Championships with a final-round 65. Moreno (2008) and Anna Rawson (2001) were the previous record holders at 67 ... Belen Mozo finished 11th at the Pac-10 Championships in 2009, tied for third in 2008 and tied for 30th in 2007. Salas was fourth in 2009 and tied for sixth in 2008. Song tied for first in 2009. Stefanie Endstrasser was eighth in 2008. Inah Park tied for 24th in 2009 and Caroline Kim was 42nd in 2009.
The Trojans in 2009-2010
Sophomore Jennifer Song, who leads the nation in stroke average (70.63), is arguably the top collegiate player in the country. She has won two titles this year and also produced two second-place finishes. She won her 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 ... This past summer, she 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. On the heels of her 2009 amateur success, she received an invitation to compete at the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA's first major of the season April 1-4, where she tied for 21st with a 1-over 289 (71-71-76-71) and was the low amateur in the field. She was tied for 10th after the first two rounds ... In her first collegiate spring event, Song tied for second at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at 1-over 214 (67-75-72) and then tied for 10th at the Bruin Wave Invitational ... She finished second again at the PING/ASU Invitational with an 8-under 208 (69-70-69) ... In 16 collegiate rounds this year, she has posted two 66s, three 67s and two 69s ... She broke USC's record for stroke average as a freshman at 71.55, leading the nation last year ... She has 14 career rounds in the 60s, the most in school history and one more than senior teammate Belen Mozo (13) ... She was a semifinalist for the 2009 Sullivan Award, given to the top amateur athlete in the country.
Junior Lizette Salas, a two-time All-American and a first teamer as a sophomore who spent much of last season ranked either No. 1 or 2 in the country, is currently ranked No. 12 thanks to four top 6 finishes this year and five in the top 12 ... Second on the squad with a stroke average of 72.16 (and ninth-best in the country), she has three top six finishes in her past four events ... She nabbed a title in USC's final fall event, the Turtle Bay Collegiate Invitational, with an 8-under 208. That followed her 12th-place finish 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 and was fourth at the Bruin Wave Invitational at 2-under 214 (72-71-71). She tied for sixth at the PING/ASU Invitational with a 5-under 211 (69-72-70) ... She has nine career rounds in the 60s ... 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, is 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 ... At the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge, USC's first spring semester event, she tied for 12th. She then tied for 22nd at the Wildcat Invitational and tied for seventh at the Bruin Wave Invitational with an even 216 (68-76-72) ... Mozo, third on the team in stroke average (73.81) and ranked No. 39 in the country, has 13 career rounds in the 60s, one behind sophomore teammate Jennifer Song, who holds USC's career record ... 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.
Freshman Cyna Rodriguez has provided a solid lift for the Trojans as a reliable contributor to the starting lineup. She has five top 40 finishes, including a season-best tie for 15th at the Bruin Wave Invitational where she finished at 3-over 219 (73-75-71). She tied for 24th at the Turtle Bay Collegiate and tied for 37th at the PING/ASU Invitational.
Senior Stefanie Endstrasser saw limited action in the fall, but finished on a high note, tying for 21st at the Turtle Bay Collegiate. She has played in two spring events, most recently tying for 46th at the PING/ASU Invitational. She also tied for 54th at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge.
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's season has been highlighted so far by a tie for 30th at the Mason Rudolph Championship and she has two other top 40 finishes. Sophomore Inah Park is also steadily improving. She tied for 30th with Kim at the Mason Rudolph and tied for 33rd at the Northrop Grumman.
2009-2010 EVENT RECAPS
MASON RUDOLPH CHAMPIONSHIP
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).
2009 FALL PREVIEW
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).
TURTLE BAY COLLEGIATE
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.
NORTHROP GRUMMAN REGIONAL CHALLENGE
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.
USC had a pair of tough days of golf at the 2010 Wildcat Invitational at the Arizona National G.C. in Tucson, Ariz., finishing 12th. Troy, playing both days in cold and windy conditions (including rain on the first day), combined for a final-round 310 and finished the two-day event at 50-over 618 (308-310). The invitational was originally scheduled for 54 holes, but miserable playing conditions reduced the first day of action from 36 holes to 18. The Women of Troy were led by senior Belen Mozo, tied for 22nd at 8-over 150 (77-73). Sophomore Jennifer Song tied for 40th at 12-over 154 (74-80).
BRUIN WAVE INVITATIONAL
Lizette Salas, Belen Mozo and Jennifer Song all finished in the top 10 as USC claimed its third tournament of the season and the second of the spring at the inaugural Bruin Wave Invitational at the Robinson Ranch G.C. in Santa Clarita, Calif. USC overcame a four-stroke deficit to Pepperdine and also out-played UCLA, which it started the day tied with, to win the 54-hole event at 2-over 866 (286-294-286). Salas finished fourth overall at 2-under 214 (72-71-71), putting together a strong three-day performance for her third top five result this season and the fourth in the top 12. Mozo tied for seventh at even 216 (68-76-72) for her first top 10 mark this season while Song tied for 10th at 1-over 217 (73-72-72) for her fourth top 10 finish.
Jennifer Song fired a 69 to finish second while Lizette Salas was also under par to tie for sixth, leading the No. 4 USC women's golf team to third place in a hotly contested final round of the PING/ASU Invitational at the Karsten G.C. in Tempe, Ariz. The Trojans, playing in their final regular-season event, finished at 6-under 858 (281-290-287), two back of come-from-behind winner UCLA (856) and one back of second-round leader and host Arizona State (857). Song posted her fourth top 2 finish of the season at 8-under 208 (69-70-69). Salas notched her fourth top 6 finish in the past five events at 5-under 211 (69-72-70).