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Two-Time Defending Champs USC Women's Golf Set For Pac-12s

Apr 16, 2022

The No. 9 USC women's golf team, the two-time defending Pac-12 champion with two record-setting spring victories to its credit, has arrived as its chance to make it three titles in a row as the 2022 Pac-12 Women's Golf Championship, Monday through Wednesday (April 18-20) at the Eugene (Ore.) C.C.

2022 Pac-12 Championships Information
Tee times at Oregon's 6,267-yard, par 72 course will start at 9 a.m. PT on Monday and Tuesday and at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. Results will be available at golfstat.com. Click here for the Pac-12's championship site.

The Pac-12, arguably the toughest conference in the country, features four teams in the golfweek.com Top 10 in No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Oregon, No. 7 Arizona State and No. 9 USC and another two in the Top 25 in No. 12 UCLA and No. 25 Arizona. Oregon State and Washington are in the top 40.

TV & Streaming Info Following each round, the Pac-12 will feature highlights on Pac-12 Network, the Pac-12 Now app, Pac-12.com and Pac-12 social media platforms. Pac-12 Network will also air a "Women's Golf Championship Show" on April 21 at 6 p.m. PT.

USC's starting lineup, for the sixth event in a row, features senior Katherine Muzi, sophomores Brianna Navarrosa and Michaela Morard and freshmen Xin (Cindy) Kou and Amari Avery. It will be the 12th start this season for Muzi, Navarrosa and Kou, the ninth for Morard and the eighth for Avery.

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 - both seniors. 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), 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, but she has yet to play this season due to injury.

USC'S PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
* USC, the two-time defending champion, has won eight conference titles overall and in six of the past 14 years (2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021). In fact, USC has finished in the top 3 in 13 of the past 16 Pac-12 Championships, including finishing second in 2012, tied for second in 2014, both by one stroke, and in second in 2018. Overall, USC has collected Pac-12 crowns in 1989, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 2021 (there was no championship in 2020 due to Covid) and won the Pacific West Conference title in 1986 (the last year before it became the Pac-10).
 
* The Trojans have also won six Pac-12 individual titles, including a streak that saw three straight freshmen win it. Annie Park won it as a 2013 freshman at 7-under 209 (70-70-69) to become USC's sixth conference medalist. Doris Chen won it as a freshman in 2012, taking first at 1-over 217 (77-72-68) while Sophia Popov claimed her title in a one-hole playoff as a 2011 freshman after finishing regulation at 6-under 210 (69-71-70).

* USC defended its 2019 Pac-12 title two years later with a brilliant 54-hole effort, completing a wire-to-wire performance as it did two years before, to capture the 2021 Pac-12 Women's Golf Championship by five strokes at the Stanford G.C. The Trojans played a steady three days of golf to win at 3-under 849 (283-287-279) while withstanding a furious rally from host Stanford and pressure from other Pac-12 rivals. The win marked USC's seventh Pac-12 title and eighth in conference history. USC did it thanks to a group effort highlighted by senior Amelia Garvey and junior Malia Nam. Garvey, in her first Pac-12s since her freshman season, posted her collegiate-best finish, taking second at 5-under 208 (67-72-69), while Nam tied for third at 4-under 209 (68-72-69). Senior Alyaa Abdulghany was 12th at 4-over 217 (73-74-70), senior Allisen Corpuz tied for 15th at 7-over 220 (75-74-71) and freshman Brianna Navarrosa tied for 20th at 9-over 222 (80-69-73).

* The Trojans, as the 2019 Pac-12 Championship hosts, completed a dominating wire-to-wire performance that saw four players finish in the top 7, winning by 11 strokes at the Palos Verdes G.C. USC won at 1-under 851 (283-286-282) for its first Pac-12 win since 2016 and duplicating its 2008 effort when the Trojans also won the conference trophy while hosting at the same course. Sophomore Gabriela Ruffels led USC's quartet of top 7 finishers at 3-under 210 (70-72-68), closing with her best round since Nov. 6 to finish one shot out of first in third. Junior Allisen Corpuz took fifth, sophomore Jennifer Chang was sixth with sophomore Alyaa Abdulghany seventh.

* The Trojans claimed the 2016 team title at 18-under 846 (278-275-293), a Pac-12 record for lowest three-round total and most under par. USC won by three strokes after leading by 13 through the second round. USC's second round 275 was its lowest ever at a conference championship and tied for sixth lowest ever. Then-junior Gabriella Then led Troy with a tie for third at 8-under 208 (70-65-73), her second round tying USC's record for lowest round at Pac-12s. USC won the team title in 2013, running away with a 24-stroke win behind Park's victory and Popov's second-place finish at 5-under 211. Chen and Rachel Morris also finished in the top 10.
 
* In 2011, USC posted a five-stroke win while then-freshman Popov won the individual title in a one-hole playoff. USC played the final round with only four players after Lisa McCloskey suffered a rib injury, yet the shorthanded Trojans had enough for the win. Popov's string of birdies (when she knocked in five of seven between 7 and 13) helped her secure her seventh straight top 7 finish.
 
* In 2008, USC posted a dominating 26-stroke win. Serving as host school, USC combined for an 8-over 860 (285-292-283) to win during a windy three-day event. Troy was led by senior Paola Moreno, who won USC's third individual championship with a 1-under 212 (70-75-67), the Trojans' best ever 54-hole total at a conference championship at the time. She led five Trojan golfers who all finished in the top 8. Moreno joined USC's previous two individual Pac-10 title winners Candie Kung (2000) and Jennifer Biehn (1994).
 
* In addition to USC's eight team titles, Troy has finished second or third 11 other times, including in 2009, when the Trojans finished second when then-freshman Jennifer Song tied for first before falling in a playoff. Song went 5-under during the final seven holes of the Pac-10 Championships to get into a three-way playoff with Arizona's State's Carlotta Ciganda and Jennifer Osborn (Osborn won it on the first hole).
 
* Lizette Salas, as a sophomore in 2009, set the USC school and Pac-12 record for low round at the Pac-12 Championships with a final-round 65, tied by Trojan Gabriella Then in 2016 (and two other Pac-12 players). Then's round came at 7-under, tied for most under par in a Pac-12 Championship round in conference history. Popov came close with a first-round 66 in 2013. Moreno (2008) and Anna Rawson (2001) were the previous USC record holders at 67.

Rankings
Freshman Amari Avery is ranked No. 2 (Golfweek) while senior Katherine Muzi is No. 31, freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou is No. 56, sophomore Brianna Navarrosa is No. 90 and sophomore Michaela Morard is No. 151.
Avery is ranked No. 24 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings while Kou is No. 91 and Muzi is No. 111.

Amari Avery Ties For Fourth At Augusta National Women's Amateur
Freshman Amari Avery, during a freshman season in which she has opened with five straight top 8 finishes, maintained that success on one of the biggest stages in amateur golf, tying for fourth on April 2 during the final round of the Augusta National Women's Amateur. Avery, who debuted last year at the event but missed the cut by a stroke, finished in a three-way tie for fourth at 1-over 217 (73-72-72), just two strokes back of first. It was the fourth appearance by a Trojan in the Augusta National Women's Amateur final and the best finish, topping Allisen Corpuz's tie for 13th in 2021. Senior teammate Katherine Muzi also played this week, but missed the cut at 12-over.

Avery Named To 2022 Curtis Cup, Joins Muzi On Palmer Cup Rankings
Amari Avery was named on Friday (April 15) to the eight-woman 2022 U.S. Curtis Cup team that will compete in June. Avery will be making her debut in the event, one of three newcomers to the U.S. team. Recent Trojan graduate Allisen Corpuz competed on the 2021 team that won the the 41st Curtis Cup Match. Overall, seven USC golfers have played in the Curtis Cup, all for the U.S. side. Avery (No. 2) and Katherine Muzi (No. 13) were on the latest Arnold Palmer Cup rankings. Selections for the 2022 Arnold Palmer Cup team are being announced April 19.

Recent Record-Breaking Results
The Trojans posted one of their best regular-season performances in program history by 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.

USC followed that with another record-setting performance, winning The Gold Rush by a school-record 36 strokes, two better than the same event a year earlier. USC won at 1-under 863 (288-289-286), defending its title here and winning The Gold Rush for the third time.

Avery became the first Trojan to win back-to-back events in nine years and led a starting five that all finished in the top 8. She won with a 5-under 211 (69-74-68), becoming the first Trojan - and the first USC freshman - since Annie Park to win twice in a row. Park, like Avery, was a spring semester freshman enrollee when she finished the 2013 season by winning the Pac-12, NCAA Regional and NCAA Championships.

Senior Katherine Muzi posted her second-best finish as a Trojan by taking second at 1-over 217 (70-75-72) while freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou locked up her fourth top 5 of the year in fourth at 3-over 219 (73-74-72).

Player Highlights
* Freshman Amari Avery is off to an amazing start to her Trojan career. She posted two wins, a tie for second, a tie for sixth and a tie for eighth among her first five stroke-play starts and a tie for 18th in her sixth.
 * Her stroke average is 71.28 through 18 rounds, which is under the USC season record. She is already second on the team with six rounds in the 60s to go with nine rounds under par and 10 of par or better.
* Avery won her first college hardware at 15-under 201 (65-71-65) at the Icon Invitational, 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 and she is the first Trojan to post a pair of 65s in one tournament.
* She won at The Gold Rush at 5-under 211 (69-74-68) for her second straight crown.
* Avery was named Pac-12 Golfer of the Month for February.
* Her five top 8s to start her season is the best freshman start in at least two decades and complements Kou's four top 15s to start her season in the fall.

* Freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou leads USC with seven rounds under 70 this year, good for a tie for fifth on USC's all-time season chart. She has 10 rounds under par and is second on the team with 13 rounds of par or better. She is third on the team with a 73.70 stroke average. Her 13-under at the Icon Invitational is tied for the third-best total in school history.
* Kou has four top 5 finishes, five top 10s and six top 15 results in seven starts.
* 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 was 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 is having the best season of her Trojan career. She boasts a stroke average of 73.13, second-best on the team, and has a team-high 11 rounds under par while also boasting a team-best 15 rounds of par or better.
* She is third on the squad with four rounds under 70.
* Including her win at the Pac-12 Preview, Muzi has five top 12 finishes, which also includes a second at The Gold Rush, and seven Top 20s.
* 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 win came one event after she posted a then-career-best 10th-place effort at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
* She joined teammate Amari Avery as a participant in the 2022 August National Women's Amateur.

* Sophomore Brianna Navarrosa had a streak of three straight top 16 finishes come to a recent end, but she still has five in the top 20 this year,  nine top 20s for her career, and seven top 24s this year.
* With a stroke average of 74.13, she has five rounds under par and eight for par or better.

* Sophomore Michael Morard has come on strong this spring and had a recent stretch of improving in four straight events, highlighted by a tie for eighth at The Gold Rush following a tie for 11th at the Icon Invitational. Morard, with five top 30 results, has a stroke average of 74.75 with six rounds of par or better.

Team Notes
* USC's two-event win streak at the Icon Invitational and The Gold Rush is its first since winning the Silverado Showdown and Pac-12 Championship last April.

* Justin Silverstein has now led the Trojans to 16 wins in his three-plus years as Head Coach.

* Amari Avery is the first Trojan to win twice in a season since Allisen Corpuz did it last year.

Fall Recap
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.

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.

Trojan Overview
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.

Trojan Vets
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.

Trojan Newcomers
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.