Behind Park, USC women cruise to Pac-12 title
No. 1 USC dominated the Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championship with a 24-stroke victory at Valencia (Calif.) Country Club on Wednesday. The Trojans’ Annie Park became the Trojans' third consecutive freshman to win the conference individual title, as well.
USC shot 11-under 853 (280-291-282) to win the program's fifth conference title. The victory also is USC's school-record-tying fifth this season. Washington finished second at 13-over 877, while UCLA finished in third at 15-over 879. Arizona and Stanford tied for fourth at 18-over 882.
"It was a great team win," said USC head coach Andrea Gaston. "We wanted the girls to get off to a quick start today and that's exactly what they did. I'm very proud of all them. Annie played great today and finished strong. It's really neat to have three straight freshmen win the Pac-12 individual title."
Park followed in the footsteps of junior teammate Sophia Popov (2011) and sophomore teammate Doris Chen (2012) to win USC's sixth conference individual title. Paola Moreno (2008), Candie Kung (2000) and Jennifer Biehn (1994) were the Trojans’ other winners.
Park, No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, entered the final round tied for first at 4 under while Popov was tied for third at 3 under. But while Park got off to a slow start, going 2-over through 8, Popov opened with a flurry and took the lead at 7-under at the turn.
Park birdied Nos. 9, 12 and 13, then caught Popov at 6 under with a birdie on 15. Park took over the lead when Popov bogeyed 17. Popov's birdie putt on 18 was just off, which left Park needing a par for the win.
Park hit her second shot on the par-5 18th just short of the green and left her third shot about 20 feet from the hole. Needing two putts for the win, Park only took one, sinking her putt for the win.
Park finished at 7-under 209 (70-70-69), while Popov took second at 5-under 211 (66-75-70). Joining them in the top 10 were Chen, who tied for seventh at 1-over 217 (72-71-74) and junior Rachel Morris, who finished 10th at 2-over 218 (72-77-69). Morris made eight birdies in the final round.
Park's win was her second this year, complementing her title at the Bruin Wave Invitational in March. It was also her fifth top 8 finish in seven starts. Popov, who on Monday broke USC's career record for rounds in the 60s with her 16th, finished with her fifth straight top 10. Popov is No. 6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.