USC Men's Golf Returns To Southern Highlands For First Time Since 2020 Win
The 2021-22 USC men's golf team, under second-year head coach J.T. Higgins and featuring seven new golfers to complement four returners, returns to Sin City for the annual Southern Highlands Collegiate, Sunday through Tuesday (Feb. 27-March 1), at the Southern Highlands G.C. in Las Vegas.
The 15-team field hosted by UNLV also includes, in addition to USC, No. 2 Pepperdine, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 9 Georgia, No. 15 Georgia Tech, No. 18 Texas, No. 19 Florida, No. 21 Illinois, No. 29 New Mexico, No. 30 Northwestern, San Diego, SMU, TCU and UCLA.
The three-day, 54-hole event will feature tee times beginning at 9 a.m. off 1 and 10 on the par 72, 7,510-yard course.
Results will available at Golfstat.com.
The Trojans have won the tournament three times, including 2016, 2017 and 2020 (in what turned out to be the final tournament that season due to Covid) and feature three medalists, including 2018 winner Justin Suh. The event was not held in 2021.
Freshmen Jackson Rivera and Gavin Aurilia will start for the seventh time this season along with sophomores Shane Ffrench and Krando Nishiba and senior transfer Alex Ross. Rivera and Aurilia are the only Trojans to start in each event this season.
USC kicked off the spring semester at the Southwestern Invitational, taking ninth. Sophomore Shane Ffrench led the Trojans with a tie for 31st while Jackson Rivera tied for 34th, the fifth time he's been among USC's top two finishers this year.
Ffrench again led USC in the John A. Burns Intercollegiate, tying for 14th at 3-under 213 (66-70-77), his second-highest finish as a Trojan, while Jack Boulger posted his Trojan best with a tie for 20th at 1-under 215 (70-70-75).
Jackson Rivera remains USC's leader in stroke average (72.56). Rivera leads the Trojans with a team-best 10 rounds of par or better including nine under par. Fellow freshman Gavin Aurilia, who was the only other Trojan to start in all four fall events besides Rivera, has six rounds of par or better.
Jackson Rivera led USC all golfers during the fall season, getting off to a fantastic freshman start to his Trojan career. He started in all four of USC's 2021 fall events, posting three top 18 finishes and four in the top 28. He was Troy's top finisher in each event and led the Trojans in stroke average at 71.58.
In fact, Rivera is the first Trojan to lead the men in each fall event since All-American Justin Suh did it in 2017. Rivera's best finish was a tie for 13th at the Colonial Collegiate Invitational at 2-over 212 (72-75-65) while his lowest round under par was a 5-under 211 (73-68-70) at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate, good for a tie for 16th.
Four Trojans played in the Washington County Individual in the opening weekend, also in Wisconsin, and graduate transfer Alex Ross took medalist honors with one-stroke win at 12-under 132 (64-68). Redshirt freshman transfer Parker Rostowsky tied for ninth at 6-under 138 (66-72).
For Ross, his 64 was the lowest USC round since Justin Suh's 64 to open the Western Intercollegiate on April 15, 2019. It was the lowest-round by a first-year Trojan since Kaito Onishi's 63 as a freshman in the 2017-18 season and the lowest USC debut round in at least 20 years.
In his first year with the Trojans, Higgins guided USC through the 2021 spring-shortened season to a berth in the NCAA Tallahassee Regional.
This year's squad features four returning Trojans in senior Cameron Henry, junior Tyler Guo and sophomores Shane Ffrench and Krando Nishiba.
USC has seven newcomers including three true freshmen and four transfers (one of whom is a redshirt freshman who didn't play last year).
The new septet include true freshmen Gavin Aurilia, Jackson Rivera and Daniel Tang. USC's four transfers are fifth-year senior Alex Ross (Davidson), senior Jack Boulger (Connecticut), junior Parker Sisk (San Jose State) and redshirt freshman Parker Rostowsky (Georgia).
Troy's key losses were outgoing seniors Leon D'Souza and Kaito Onishi.
Trojan Talking Points
Shane Ffrench was was the lone Trojan to start and play in all nine of USC's tournaments last season. He was a member of the 2021 All-Pac-12 Newcomer Team and is Troy's leading returner in 2021 stroke average (72.68), rounds of par or better (12) and rounds under par (nine).
Tyler Guo finished with a 74.72 stroke average (which saw 19 counting rounds) and three rounds under par as a sophomore, all in his career-best effort at the Amer Ari Invitational. There, he tied for second at 7-under 209 (68-68-71). Guo was named a 2021 Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar, boasting a 3.51 cumulative GPA as a business administration major, and was also part of the 2021 Pac-12 Spring Academic Honor Roll.
USC's lone returning senior is Cameron Henry. As a 2021 junior, he was a seven-time starter for the Trojans who finished with a 73.68 stroke average, seven rounds of par or better, two top 16 finishes and three in the top 26. His season was highlighted by a tie for 10th at the Amer Ari Invitational at 5-under 211 (70-72-69), his final round a season-best.
Sophomore Krando Nishiba saw action in two events as a sophomore, both starts.
Freshman Gavin Aurilia graduated from Arcadia (Ariz.) High where he won the 2019 Division II state championship at 6-under 140 while leading his squad to a third-place state finish as the No. 2-ranked player in the state. Aurilia put together a dominating win at the 2021 IMG Junior World Championship in the 15-18 division, posting a 4-stroke victory at Torrey Pines with a 3-under 281 (72-71-66-72), taking control of the tournament with a 5-under third round. He is the son of longtime Major League Baseball player Rich Aurilia.
Freshman Jackson Rivera graduated from Torrey Pines High in San Diego where he was a four-time Rolex All-American. He rose to the No. 2 ranked junior golfer in California in 2020 and was top-ranked by AJGA. Rivera qualified for the 2021 U.S. Amateur and he won the 2020 Rancho Santa Margarita Amateur. In 2018, Rivera represented the U.S. at the biennial The Junior Open Championship on the Eden Course at St. Andrews and played for the West team at the Wyndham Cup.
Freshman Daniel Tang, who hails from Beijing, has a broad collection of pro tournament and amateur experience, including playing in the prestigious Sina Cup in 2020. He has played in four PGA Tour China events, most recently finishing third at the 2020 PGA Tour China Qualifying School, earning full exempt status. He was the low amateur at the 2019 Haikou Open (36th), made the cut at the 2018 Zhuhai Open and was the qualifier medalist at the Huangshan Open.
Fifth-year senior Alex Ross is an Atlantic 10 All-Conference first team performer who helped Davidson College win a pair of league championships during a four years with the Wildcats. He once fired a competitive round of 15-under 57. Ross played in 35 career rounds for the Wildcats and was a key part of 2018 and 2021 Atlantic 10 Conference titles, helping the Wildcats to its first two NCAA Championships Regional appearances both seasons.
Senior transfer Jack Boulger from Connecticut played three seasons for the Huskies, playing in 19 career tournaments between 2018-2020 with 13 career rounds of par or better, two rounds in the 60s and seven career top 30 finishes. He did not compete collegiately in the 2020-21 season.
Parker Sisk, a junior transfer from San Jose State, brings solid Division I experience to USC. Sisk competed for San Jose State in 2019 and 2020, playing in a combined 10 tournaments. As a 2020 sophomore, Sisk was a Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar. He saw action in six events and was fifth on the team with a stroke average of 73.22, including five rounds in the 60s.
Parker Rostowsky is a 2022 redshirt freshman transfer from Georgia who did not see action as a true freshman with the Bulldogs. He graduated from Mount Paran High in Atlanta, where he was the 2018 Class A Golfer of the Year. A three-time All-State selection, he claimed state medalist honors once and region honors twice. He was the Cobb County Male Athlete of the Year and the Golfer of the Year in 2018 and won seven individual high school tournaments. He also was the kicker on the Mount Paran football team, earning honorable mention All-State honors while twice being named to the All-Region and All-County teams on the gridiron.