Trojans Take NCAA Championships First Round Lead

May 18, 2010

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Sophomore Jennifer Song fired a 5-under 67 while freshman Cyna Rodriguez tied her season-best round with a 4-under 68 to lead No. 3 USC into first place after the first round of the 2010 NCAA Championships on Tuesday (May 18) at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, N.C.

USC, the 2003 and 2008 NCAA champion, took a good first step toward a third crown with a combined 6-under 282, the Trojans' best-ever round at an NCAA Championships. Troy is two strokes better than second-place Purdue (284). Conference rivals Arizona State and UCLA joined Duke in a three-way tie for third at even 288 while Alabama and Florida State are tied for sixth at 1-over 289. USC has led after the NCAA Championships first round in six of the past eight years, including its title teams of 2003 and 2008.

The Trojans, who have finished in the NCAA Championships' top 4 in five of the past seven years, including a third in 2009, began play Tuesday in the second wave of teams within the 24-team field, playing solidly throughout the round.

Song registered her best round since Feb. 8, the 67 good for a three-way tie for first with Arizona State's Jennifer Johnson and Purdue's Maude-Aimee LeBlanc. She opened play with a birdie on 1 and a bogey on 3 before sinking back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6. She got to 3-under with another birdie on 11 and then took advantage of the short par 5 18th hole by knocking in an eagle. Her 67 extended her team record for rounds in the 60s to 15.

Rodriguez' big day left her tied for fourth with Duke's Kim Donovan and UCLA's Brianna Do at 4-under 68. It was the freshman's second round in the 60s this year, the first coming in the final round of the Pac-10 Championships about a month ago. Rodriguez, who has three top 16 finishes in her last four events, knocked in six consecutive pars to start her round before sandwiching a bogey on 8 with birdies on 7 and 9. She kept the strong play going on the back 9 with birdies on 10, 14 and 18.

Senior Belen Mozo is tied for 30th at 1-over 73. She began her day with a bogey on 1 and a birdie on 2 and remained at par until bogeys on 11 and 14. She got back to 1-over with a birdie on 16.

Junior Lizette Salas is tied for 49th at 2-over 74. Though she didn't have her 'A' game on Tuesday, she fought back from 4-over late in the round with birdies on 17 and 18. Sophomore Inah Park is tied for 87th at 5-over 77. She birdied her first hole, but had six bogeys the rest of the round.

Like most schools, USC's best hole Tuesday was the par 5 18th, where USC was a combined 3-under. On the flip side, USC struggled on the 3rd hole with three bogeys.

USC will again be paired with South Carolina and Arizona in the second round, teeing off the 10th tee at 8 a.m. EDT.