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No. 8 USC Women's Golf Back In Bay For NCAA Stanford Regional

May 6, 2022
Sophomore Michaela Morard

The No. 8 USC women's golf team, with two record-setting spring victories to its credit, kicks off 2022 NCAA Championship play by returning to the Bay Area for the NCAA Stanford Regional, Monday through Wednesday (May 9-11), at the Stanford G.C.

USC REGIONAL INFO AND HISTORY
The Trojans, three-time NCAA champions who had a recent national-leading streak of 14 straight NCAA top 5 finishes end just last year, are hoping to return again to the NCAA Championships final set for the Grayhawk G.C. in Scottsdale, Ariz., hosted by Arizona State, May 20-25.

Joining the Trojans and No. 1 seed and host Stanford will be No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Texas Tech, No. 5 Kentucky, No. 6 Iowa State, No. 7 Northwestern, No. 8 Purdue, No. 9 UNLV, No. 10 Cal Poly, No. 11 Princeton and No. 12 Sacred Heart.

Play begins at 8 a.m. PT each day off 1 and 10 and results will be available at Golfstat.

This year, the top 4 teams from the six NCAA Regionals (72 teams total) - and top two individuals (not on an advancing teams) - will advance to Grayhawk. This is the first year the NCAA is using six regional sites. USC is one of nine Pac-12 teams to make the field, which include Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, Washington.

USC played in the 18-team Stanford Regional last year - in the final year of the format - and finished sixth, earning the last spot from the site into the NCAA Championships.

Troy also played in at Stanford in NCAA Regional action in 2016 and 2013, winning both, as well as in 2002, qualifying with an eighth-place finish. The Trojans have advanced to the NCAA Championship final site every year since 1998.

USC posted a recent NCAA record run of seven straight regional titles that ended in 2017. USC has won an NCAA-best 13 regionals overall - including a wire-to-wire victory in 2019 - and had a streak of being an NCAA regional top seed from 2011-16. Troy was also was among the top 2 seeded teams in regional play each year from 2010-19. The Trojans won the NCAA West Regional at Tumble Creek in 2014 by one stroke, overcoming a five-stroke deficit in the final round. That was part of a NCAA record run of seven straight regional titles that ended in 2017. The Trojans' 13 regional titles include 11 of the past 15 seasons. The past 11 came in 2006 (Central), 2007 (Central), 2008 (West), 2010 (Central), 2011 (West), 2012 (Central), 2013 (West) and 2014 (West), 2015 (St. George Regional) and 2016 (Stanford Regional, tied for first), 2019 (Cle Elum Regional).

STARTING LINEUP
USC's starting lineup, for the seventh 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 13th start this season for Muzi, Navarrosa and Kou, the 10th for Morard and the ninth for Avery. Sophomore Christine Wang will be available as a sub.

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.

Rankings
Freshman Amari Avery is ranked No. 3 (Golfweek) while senior Katherine Muzi is No. 33, freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou is No. 63, sophomore Brianna Navarrosa is No. 88 and sophomore Michaela Morard is No. 147.
Avery is ranked No. 21 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings while Kou is No. 103 and Muzi is No. 115.

2022 All-Pac-12 Trojans
Freshman Amari Avery was named to the 2022 All-Pac-12 Conference first team while senior Katherine Muzi and freshman Xin (Cindy) Kou were selected to the Pac-12 Honorable Mention team.

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 and Palmer Cup Teams
Amari Avery was named on to the eight-woman 2022 U.S. Curtis Cup team on April 15 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 was then announced on April 19 as an automatic selection to the 2022 Arnold Palmer Cup, the fourth straight year at least one Trojan has played in the cup. The event is scheduled for July 1-3 at the Golf Club de Genève July 1-3 in Switzerland. Corpuz played in the 2021 edition for the U.S. as well as in 2020 along with fellow Trojans Alyaa Abdulghany and Gabriela Ruffels, who were members of the international side. Current senior Malia Nam joined Jennifer Chang on the U.S. team in 2019.

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 fifth, a tie for sixth and a tie for eighth among her first seven stroke-play starts and a tie for 18th in her seventh.
 * Her stroke average is 71.48 through 21 rounds, which is under the USC season record. She is already tied for first on the team with seven rounds in the 60s (good for a tie for fifth on USC's all-time season chart) to go with 10 rounds under par and 11 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, who tied for fifth at the Pac-12 Championships, was named Pac-12 Golfer of the Month for February.
* Her five top 8s in a row 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 is tied for the team lead 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 73.85 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 11 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 73.36, 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, who tied for 13th at the Pac-12 Championship, had a streak of three straight top 16 finishes come to a recent end, but she still has six in the top 20 this year, 10 top 20s for her career, and eight top 24s this year.
* With a stroke average of 74.09, she has six rounds under par and nine of par or better.
* She posted a season-best tie for eighth at The Gold Rush, tied for 10th at the Stanford Intercollegiate at 2-under 211 (70-70-71) and was 11th at the Lamkin Invitational.

* 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 six top 30 results, has a stroke average of 74.74 with seven 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.