Monday Top 5: USC sweeps Pac-10 in playoffs

Martin Trainer after winning the Pac-10 Championship.

Martin Trainer after winning the Pac-10 Championship.

1.) Playoff champ

What a finish at the Pac-10 Conference Championship. The individual leaderboard had a couple of names alone at the top after 72 holes - USC’s Martin Trainer and Oregon State’s Alex Moore. Of the two, Moore was the more recognizable name, but not many would have pegged this duo for Pac-10 glory at the beginning of the championship. The two finished 72 holes at 5-under 275 and were forced to play off for individual medalist honors.

Trainer and Moore would play the 18th hole at the Stanford Golf Course another seven times before a winner was decided. It took almost two hours before Trainer finally won with a par. The two had each recorded par the previous six times they played the hole. The victory is Trainer’s first college victory and is his third consecutive top-5 finish. He is the 21st Trojan golfer to win the Pac-10 title.

The winner of the Pac-10 not only can claim being the conference champion, but with the victory earns an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open later this year.

2.) On a roll

USC might be the hottest team in the country entering postseason play. The Trojans defeated Oregon on the first extra hole of a team playoff to win the Pac-10 Conference Championship for a league-best 19th time. After finishing the fall ranked No. 32 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, USC is starting to play like a top team. The Trojans have finished in the top 3 in each of their last four starts.

“We are over the moon right now,” USC coach Chris Zambri said. “Everyone is pretty stoked. It’s just nice to have guys playing well and have a season that wasn’t going great and to have everyone step up their game and all of the sudden become a really good team.”

3.) Army marches to victory

There might not be a more balanced conference in men’s college golf. The seven-team Patriot League was separated by less than 60 spots in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings with Navy, the host team, being the favorite.

With a winner-take-all approach, claiming The Patriot League title is the only path to the postseason. First-year Army coach Brian Watts guided his team to four-shot win over runner-up Navy. Leading the way for the Black Knights was senior captain Matt Krembel, who became the seventh Army golfer to win the individual conference crown. Army will play in the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2006.

“It was a total team effort,” said Watts, who coached Oregon State to a tie for 16th place at the NCAA Championship last year. “We are just extremely proud of them. The guys are starting to believe in themselves and as coaches that is what you want to see. We are as excited as you would imagine and that’s the fun part, watching the guys celebrate and seeing all of their hard work pay off.”

4.) Three-peat

In what many thought could be a close Big Ten Conference Championship this past weekend at the Kampen Course at Purdue, Illinois had other plans. The Fighting Illini opened up an early lead and then cruised to a 19-shot victory to win the conference title for the third consecutive season. Illinois junior Luke Guthrie won the individual title by a single shot over Iowa’s Chris Brant.

5.) Postseason eligible

This past weekend Coastal Carolina pulled its overall win-loss mark above .500 and is now postseason eligible after a second place finish at the Cavalier Classic. The Chanticleers also moved up to No. 61 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings and should be a safe pick to get an at-large bid into the postseason.

After a tie for third at the Big South Conference Championship, Coastal Carolina had an overall record of 68-70-1. With a second-place showing and finishing seven shots behind host Virginia, the Chanticleers are now 74-71-1.

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