Notebook: USC carries consistency late into season
No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings proved again why they deserve to be at the top.
The Trojans won the SDSU Farms Invitational on April 2 at the Farms Golf Club in Rancho Fanta Fe, Calif., for its third straight win, and fourth of the season.
“Well obviously we're really excited with their overall performance,” head coach Andrea Gaston said. “Everybody’s score is counting and we’re excited to see everyone playing so well.”
The 11-under 875 total was good for a 21-stroke victory over Arizona. It is also the first time the women won three or more team titles in a row dating back to the 2008. That year they won the NCAA Championship.
Not only did junior Sophia Popov claim medalist honors for the fifth time in her career, all four other Trojans – Annie Park (3rd), Kyung Kim (T-4), Doris Chen (T-4) and Rachel Morris (T-10) – finished in the top 10.
Popov’s win tied the school record for career wins. This was also her first win of this season. She shot rounds of 74-69-74 to win by one shot over Arizona’s Manon Gidali.
Meanwhile, all five Trojans are ranked in the top 100 in the Golfweek Rankings. Park, Kim, Popov and Chen are in the top 21.
Park, who joined the team in January after graduating high school year early in December, placed in the top eight for the fourth time of five events.
“Huge,” Gaston said when asked about how much Park has made an impact on the team. “She has been just been huge to come early and win in her third event in she wins. It just shows her potential.”
This is the Trojans' fourth win in their last five tournaments, dating to the Stanford Intercollegiate in October. In three of those tournaments – Stanford Intercollegiate, Bruin Wave Invitational and the SDSU Farms Invitational – Kim, Park and Popov, respectively, have won the individual title.
"It’s very impressive to see different girls win,” Gaston said. “It just shows the balance of our team. It demonstrates at every event that some of these girls can win. And the rest are close behind.
In the four tournament wins, the team has won by a total of 27 strokes over its opponents.
“The biggest thing for us is to keep grinding (for the postseason),” Gaston said. “We have to enjoy the wins today, and get back to work tomorrow.”
• • •
Nearing own record : Texas State senior Krista Puisite was co-medalist at the Challenge at Onion Creek to claim her third individual win of the season.
This ties a school record dating back to the 2003-04 season for three tournament titles in a season. Her even-par 210 for the 54-hole event was the second lowest in Texas State history. Puisite shot 68-70-72. She holes the 54-hole scoring record she set in 2009 with a 209.
The Latvia native has five career victories, and leads the team in scoring average for the season with a 72.46. Puisite is No. 31 in the Golfweek College Rankings.
• • •
5 Questions with Sophia Popov
USC junior Sophia Popov, No. 12 in the College Rankings, won her first title of the season at the SDSU Invitational.
How did it feel to get that first win of the season?
It was really nice. I was waiting for it for a while. It was really, really nice. I got close a couple of times, and I played really well. I was just happy I could close in on that win. And most importantly we got the team win.
How does it feel to be in the Trojans record books with another college season to go?
I knew that. I always had it in the back of my head. Its obviously great and, I am looking forward to next season and I hopefully break the record with six wins, but I won’t put any pressure on myself. Right now I’m just happy to tie it for now and feels good.
What has the addition of Annie Park done for the team?
I think she’s an amazing player. She hits it really good. And she can win, as you can tell when she won in her third tournament. And it’s absolutely amazing. She makes us a stronger team. (Annie) is very consistent, and I have a feeling that won’t change. She’s a very good young player for us, and we’re lucky to have her.
Just how good is the team playing right now?
I believe everyone is playing really well. We have so much depth. And even the four, five, six players are so good. With everyone in the top 10 at SDSU really defined us. And the thing is we can all still improve. Personally, I know I can, and everyone else thinks that too.
How do you girls get ready for the next tournament and not think too far in advance?
Our preparation is going to be the same; that needs to happen. We have our team practice, but everyone practices on their own too. I am seeing a swing coach, who is also the coach for the German National Team, this weekend. We’re all working on our games and that will be the key to our success.