USC Women's Golf Returns To ANNIKA Invitational For Season Opener
The USC women's golf team, the two-time defending Pac-12 champion and ranked No. 11 in the WGCA preseason poll, kicks off the 2021-22 season at the ANNIKA Invitational at Royal G.C. in Lake Elmo, Minn., Monday through Wednesday (Sept. 13-15).
The packed 12-team field includes USC, host Minnesota, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, LSU, defending NCAA champion Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas, Wake Forest and UCLA.
Teams will tee off beginning at 8 a.m. CT each day. Results will be available at Golfstat.com.
USC has won twice in the event's six-year tenure, capturing titles in 2015 and 2016. Trojan Karen Chung was medalist in 2015. The Trojans finished fifth in the most recent event in 2019, led by Aiko Leong's sixth-place tie.
The Trojans, under fourth-year head coach Justin Silverstein and third-year assistant coach Katie Mitchell, feature a young roster with just three upperclassmen returning with just one senior.
Starting in the season opener will be juniors Katherine Muzi and Alexa Melton, sophomores Brianna Navarrosa and Christine Wang and freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou.
The Trojans are replacing three All-Americans from the 2020-21 roster in Allisen Corpuz, Amelia Garvey and Alyaa Abdulghany not to mention Gabriela Ruffels, who turned pro before her senior year.
Navarrosa is USC's leading returner in stroke average (74.08) and top 11 finishes (three) and rounds in the 60s (four). Senior Malia Nam, the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, is the Trojans' lone returning All-American on the squad.
USC is coming off of a five-win season, the third time in the last four seasons with at least that many victories and the eighth time in nine years with three or more wins.
The Trojans kicked off the 2020-21 season with a dominating 26-stroke win at the Lamkin San Diego Invitational, followed it with a four-stroke win at the Sun Devil Winter Classic against an all Pac-12 field and next won The Gold Rush by 34 strokes. USC closed the regular-season with win No. 4 at the Silverado Showdown, a five-stroke come-from-behind victory and then opened the post-season with a wire-to-wire Pac-12 title, winning by five strokes. Fifth-year senior Allisen Corpuz won at Lamkin and The Gold Rush and posted four other top fours.
USC brings back a lot of talent in its six returners, including three - Malia Nam, Alexa Melton and Brianna Navarrosa - who played in the 2021 Augusta National Women's Amateur.
Navarrosa posted four top 20 finishes, highlighted by a career-best second at the Fresno State Classic at 10-under 206 (68-70-68). She tied for 20th at the Pac-12 Championships, bouncing back from an opening 80 with a 69 and a 73.
Nam posted a pair of third-place finishes - one at the 2021 Pac-12 Championships - among three top 18s. She had three rounds in the 60s.
Melton played in three events as as a sophomore transfer last season from Pepperdine, her season topped by a tie for ninth at the Sun Devil Winter Classic.
Katherine Muzi saw action in five events as a sophomore, registering two top 16 finishes, including a seventh at the Lamkin San Diego Invitational.
Christine Wang, as a true freshman, played in two events, while sophomore Olivia Yun did not see action last year.
USC welcomes three freshmen this year, two true freshmen in Rolex All-Americans Xin (Cindy) Kou and Jiarui (Joyce) Jin - both from Beijing before moving to the states - as well as sophomore transfer and fellow Rolex All-American Michaela Morard (she played at Alabama as a true freshman).
Kou, a 2020 AJGA Rolex first teamer ranked third nationally, has won 11 career AJGA events, tied for seventh most all time among female golfers. Jin has dominated the Southern California Junior PGA Tour since 2017, winning eight tournaments among 15 top 3 finishes.
Morard represented the U.S. at the 2019 Junior Solheim Cup (where she teamed with her new teammates Navarrosa and Wang), the 2019 Toyota Junior World Cup and at the 2018 World Junior Girls. She is also a two-time AJGA Wyndham Cup team member. She also played in the 2021 Augusta National Women's Amateur.