No. 10 USC Women's Golf Returns To The Gold Rush In Seal Beach
The No. 10 USC women's golf team, the two-time defending Pac-12 champion coming off a record-setting performance last week in its first win of the season, returns to Seal Beach this week as the defending champs of The Gold Rush at Old Ranch C.C., Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 28-March 1).
The schools will play 36 holes Monday beginning at 7:45 a.m. with 18 holes set for Tuesday starting at 7 a.m.. Results will be at Golfstat.com.
USC's starting lineup includes senior Katherine Muzi, sophomores Brianna Navarrosa and Michaela Morard and freshmen Xin (Cindy) Kou and Amari Avery. Sophomore Christine Wang will play individually.
It is the eighth start this season for Muzi, Navarrosa and Kou, the fifth for Morard and the fourth for Avery.
USC has played in the event twice and won it twice, including a 34-stroke victory last year and an 18-stroke win in 2016.
The Trojans, under fourth-year head coach Justin Silverstein and third-year assistant coach Katie Mitchell, feature a young roster with just two upperclassmen returning with just one senior.
The Trojans had to replace 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 season.
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.
So far through six five stroke play events this year, Kou leads USC with a stroke average of 73.00 while Muzi is second at 73.40.
Freshman Amari Avery is ranked No. 2 in the country per Golfweek rankings withth Xin (Cindy) Kou ranked No. 13, senior Katherine Muzi is No. 45 and sophomore Brianna Navarrosa is No. 70.
USC turned in one of its best regular-season performances in program history, combining for a school-record 39-under par — led by winning freshman Amari Avery's 15-under and fellow freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou's third-place 13-under — to capture the Icon Invitational on Feb. 22 at the Golf Club of Houston.
The Trojans nailed down their first tournament victory of the season at 39-under 825 (270-281-274) for a 15-stroke victory, following their school-record 18-under opening round with a final-round 14-under, tied for the fourth-best round in program history.
Avery, the spring semester enrollee in just her second stroke play tournament in college, won her first college hardware at 15-under 201 (65-71-65), clinching her one-stroke win with a short par on 18 after seven birdies on the day.
Her 15-under tied the USC record for most under par in a 54-hole event, previously owned alone by Trojan 2006 NCAA champion Dewi Claire Schreefel, who set the mark in 2007. Avery, who had only two bogeys all tournament, is also the first Trojan to post a pair of 65s in one tournament.
Kou, barely outdone, tied for third at 13-under 203 (68-68-67), her third top 5 finish this season and also with only two bogeys. Her rounds under 70 this year now total seven, good for a tie for fifth on USC's all-time season chart, while the 13-under is tied for the third-best total in school history.
Senior Katherine Muzi (68-73-71) and sophomore Michaela Morard (69-72-71) tied for 11th at 4-under 212. For Muzi, it was her third top 11 and fourth top 20 showing this season while it was a USC best for Morard, a first-year Trojan. Sophomore Brianna Navarrosa tied for 16th at 2-under 214 (71-70-73), her third top 16 and fifth top 24 this season.
USC posted a pair of top 5 finishes in four tournaments in fall action, closing with a second at the Pac-12 Preview in Hawaii.
Freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou led the Trojans with a stroke average of 71.58, four rounds in the 60s (all 68s), top 10 finishes (three), top 15s (four), rounds under par (seven) and rounds of par or better (eight). Kou debuted with a third-place finish at the ANNIKA Invitational, followed it with a tie for fifth at the Windy City Collegiate, tied for 15th at the Stanford Intercollegiate and tied for 10th at the Pac-12 Preview.
Kou showed no signs of freshman jitters in her debut tournament as a Trojan, taking third at 8-under 208 (68-73-67). It was the most under par in a USC opener since Malia Nam, also as a freshman, took second at the same event at 12-under on Sept. 19, 2018.
Kou is just the third Trojan freshman in over 20 years to record four straight top 15s to start the season, following Nam in fall 2018 and Jennifer Song in the fall 2008. She is just the sixth Trojan overall in more than 20 years to post at least four rounds in the 60s in her first 3 events, joining Nam (five, 2019), Karen Chung (4, 2016), Annie Park (four, 2015), Kyung Kim (five, 2014), and Song (five, 2010).
Senior Katherine Muzi was the Pac-12 Golfer of the Month for November after closing the fall by winning the Pac-12 Preview by one stroke at 9-under 210 (68-71-71), securing the title with a birdie on the final hole. Her final-round 71 marked her sixth round under par this season and the seventh of par or better while her victory came one event after she posted a then-career-best 10th-place effort at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
Muzi was second on the team in stroke average (72.42) and rounds in the 60s (three).
Sophomore Brianna Navarrosa was third on the team in stroke average (73.92) and had a trio of top 25 finishes in the fall, including a tie for 10th at Stanford at 2-under 211 (70-70-71), a tie for 20th at the ANNIKA Invitational and a tie for 24th at the Pac-12 Preview. Navarrosa has four career top 10s and six top 20s.
Amari Avery Joins Trojans
Amari Avery, a four-time Rolex All-American and the No. 2 ranked prep senior in Golfweek's rankings, joins the Trojans as a 2022 spring semester freshman and will immediately compete for playing time. Avery, who is from Riverside, Calif., and was homeschooled, has already played on some of the game's biggest stages, including the 2021 Augusta National Women's Amateur and at the 2021 Women's U.S. Open. Her resume also includes medalist honors at the 2019 California Women's Amateur, a 3-0 record playing for the 2021 U.S. Junior Solheim Cup team and playing in the 2021 LPGA Founder's Cup.
USC is coming off of a five-win 2020-21 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 five returners, including two - Malia Nam 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.
Katherine Muzi saw action in five events as a junior, 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 has three freshmen this year in Rolex All-Americans Xin (Cindy), Kou Jiarui (Joyce) Jin - both from Beijing before moving to the states - and spring semester addition Amari Avery 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. Avery was a four-time Rolex All-American and the No. 2 ranked prep senior in Golfweek's rankings. 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.