We are counting down the top 30 men’s teams heading into the fall college season.
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2012-13 Golfweek ranking: 17
Go-to guy: Junior Anthony Paolucci
Season outlook: Three of five postseason starters are gone from a Trojans team that finished a disappointing T-23 at last season’s NCAA Championship. Sam Smith, USC’s scoring leader (71.76) and co-medalist at the NCAA Pullman Regional as a senior, graduated. Also gone is Stewart Hagestad, who played 19 rounds, most of them coming in the postseason. But it was Yi Keun Chang’s decision to turn pro after his freshman year that leaves head coach Chris Zambri with more than half his lineup to fill. Chang posted a 71.78 scoring average as a freshman to go along with eight top 20s, including a victory at the North Ranch Intercollegiate.
Junior Anthony Paolucci is expected to lead the way for USC this year, but he’ll have to perform better than he did down the stretch last spring. After tying for second at The Prestige at PGA West, Paolucci failed to finish better than T-15 in his last seven starts of the spring, including a tie for 93rd at the NCAA Championship. Jeffrey Kang is a strong No. 2, and fellow senior Ramsey Sahyoun saw action in 10 events last year.
The question for USC will be how much contribution it gets from its trio of freshmen. Danny Ochoa and Khaled Attieh will join the mix this season, but Zambri expects freshman Rico Hoey to have the biggest impact. Hoey is a three-time champion at the Callaway Junior World Championship, including most recently in 2012, and advanced to match play at this year’s U.S. Amateur.