Freshman Shane Ffrench Shares Early Lead, Paces USC In Season Opener
Freshman Shane Ffrench fired an impressive 2-under 70 to earn a share of first place, making his Trojan debut along with first-year head coach J.T. Higgins while leading the USC men's golf team in its season-opener at the Southwestern Invitational at North Ranch C.C. in Westlake Village, Calif., on Monday (Jan. 25).
The Trojans wrapped their first competitive round since March in fifth at 13-over 301, nine shots back of first-place Arizona State (4-over 292) with SMU second (5-over 293) and San Diego State third (6-over 294).
"It was great be back out with the guys," said Higgins, adding "the conditions couldn't have been any tougher. The wind was blowing and it was really cold. The course was set up challenging and combined with the conditions, it made scoring difficult."
Ffrench, from San Diego, Calif., was one of just five players under par today on a cold, wet and windy day. He opened his collegiate golf career with a pair of birdies on 1 (from about 55 feet) and 2 (25 feet downhill) and got to 3-under with another birdie on 11.
He followed a bogey on 14 with birdies on 15 and 17, the latter giving him a two-stroke lead. Only an errant tee shot on 18 cost him his late lead, the freshman sinking a putt from about eight feet to avoid a triple.
"He's got a lot of game," Higgins said. "Until 18, he didn't hit a bad shot all day. He was rock solid, in control of the ball and his emotions, playing stable and confidently. I think the future is pretty bright for him."
Seniors Kaito Onishi and Leon D'Souza and junior Cameron Henry all opened their seasons with 5-over 77s. Henry had two birdies on the day and was 1-over through 13 before a pair of late double bogeys.
Onishi followed a slow start at 5-over through six holes by finishing the final 12 holes at par. D'Souza's third birdie of the day on 12 got him to 2-over but his momentum stopped there with three late bogeys.
Sophomore Tyler Guo wrapped USC's efforts Monday, finishing a tough day at 12-over 84.
USC will begin play at 9:10am PT on Tuesday in the second round, paired with ASU, SMU and Louisville.