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Crock Of Gold

USC men's golf junior Sean Crocker was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ben Hogan Award, the Colonial Country Club, the Friends of Golf (FOG) and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) announced yesterday.

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The Ben Hogan Award is given annually to the top men's NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or NJCAA college golfer for his achievements in collegiate and amateur competitions over 12 months.

Past winners include Hunter Mahan (2003), Bill Haas (2004) and Rickie Fowler (2008).

Crocker, who was born in Zimbabwe but prepped at Westlake High in Westlake Village, CA, leads No. 1 USC in stroke average this year (70.15) and has finished under par in eight straight tournaments (combined 26-under par in those events).

Crocker is one of five golfers from the Pac-12 to make the cut. The list of semifinalists will be cut down to three finalists on May 3, making this month's Pac-12 Championships crucial for Crocker. The Pac-12 Championships run from April 28-30 in Boulder, CO.

Check out USC's top-ranked men's golf team on Twitter and Instagram to follow Crocker's quest.


Finish Strong

USC men's golf closed out the regular season with a win at the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo G.C. (Santa Cruz, CA).

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Sophomore Justin Suh led the way, winning the tournament with a 5-under 205 (68-67-70). It marked Suh's third Top 3 finish this season and first win of his collegiate career.

Suh and junior Sean Crocker, who tied for second in the field, helped the No. 1 Trojans finish even at 1050 (347-348-355), 18 strokes ahead of second-place Stanford.

The win is USC's third of the season, and sixth straight Top 2 finish.

The top-ranked Trojans now head to Boulder, CO for the Pac-12 Championships at the end of the month.


Low Am High Point

USC men's golf alum Stewart Hagestad made the most out of his first appearance at the Masters, taking the low amateur crown, a longstanding tradition at golf's first major. He tallied four consistent rounds, posting 74-73-74-73 en route to finishing tied for 36th at 6-over.

"It's a dream come true," Hagestad said about being low amateur. "It's something I've long thought about and to have it come to fruition is an absolute dream come true."

Hagestad, who works as a financial analyst by day in New York, earned his way into the field by winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur. He became the first U.S. Mid-Amateur champion to make the cut since 1989.

On the day before his 26th birthday, Hagestad ended up winning the low amateur title by three strokes over Curtis Luck. He needed a strong back nine on Sunday to close it out.

"I just kind of said, 'Hey, we're playing Augusta National on Sunday afternoon, the day before my birthday, and it's a perfect day. It doesn't get much better than this,'" Hagestad told Golfweek. "Obviously, low amateur was important to me and it was a huge goal, but I think one part of getting older is that there's so much more to it than that."

Anytime, Anywhere

USC men's golf is the top-ranked team in the nation, and has finished first or second in each of its last six events.

After falling in last season's NCAA semifinals, the Trojans have their eyes on the NCAA title this year.

We caught up with two of USC's standouts, Sean Crocker and Rico Hoey, practicing their craft on the team's simulator on campus.

Green But Golden

Written by Rachel Frain, USC blog contributor

With a playoff win at the U.S. Mid-Amateur last September, USC men's golf alum Stewart Hagestad cemented a trip to Augusta, GA to compete in a tradition unlike any other: the Masters Golf Tournament.

Hagestad.jpegIn his time at USC, Hagestad rarely started for the golf team. During his senior year he was a reliable reserve, often used if a starter was injured or in a slump. He spent his undergraduate years pursuing a finance degree from the Marshall School of Business, and is now working for Oak Tree Residential, a real estate firm in Manhattan.

So how did Hagestad go from sitting on the bench at USC to securing a spot in the most famous golf tournament in the world?

Since his move to the Big Apple, Hagestad has adopted his own kind of training program. He hits balls on a simulator during the weekdays, plays local courses on the weekends and competes in national amateur tournaments every so often.

Now, Hagestad, whose younger brother, Richard, is a walk-on safety on the USC football team, is preparing for the biggest weekend of his life thus far. In an interview with USA Today, Hagestad reflected on his last visit to Augusta National.

"I got to play it in college, which was obviously a dream come true," said Hagestad. "I was so enamored, but you have to look at it a little differently now. You're in tournament mode."

Although just 25 years old, Hagestad has a great deal of confidence in himself.

"I can keep up with the guys off the tee. If I start rolling in a few putts, I'd like to think I can compete with anybody," Hagestad told USA Today writer Luke Kerr-Dineen.

Every golfer competing in the Masters will participate in a Par 3 competition tomorrow before play begins, and Hagestad will have his father serve as his caddie for the day.

"There isn't any way in the world it wouldn't be my dad," said Hagestad. "He's supported me so much through the years, always been there for me."

The Masters begins on Thursday and continues through Sunday.

Good Showing At The Goodwin

This weekend, USC men's golf earned its sixth straight Top 2 finish, coming in second out of 24 teams at The Goodwin (Stanford G.C.).

The top-ranked Trojans finished nine strokes behind host Stanford, with a 6-over 846 (285-280-281).

USC sat in fourth place after Round 1 and moved into within a stroke of first after a strong second round, but the Cardinal utilized a 7-under 273 final round to take home the title.

Junior Sean Crocker (pictured) led the way for the Trojans, tying for fifth, while sophomore Justin Suh tied for 11th.

The Trojans are gearing up to head north again, with the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, CA (Pasatiempo G.C.) on the horizon. There, they'll face Stanford again as well as Oregon, Texas, Arizona State and more.


Two's Company

IMG_7692.JPGAfter impressive showings in their first few tournaments of the year, both USC's men's and women's golf teams moved up to No. 2 in the nation this week.

The men's team jumped up five spots in the national rankings after topping the 15-team field at the Southern Highlands Collegiate last week. Since the fall season began, USC has won three events and has finished in the Top 2 in five straight events. At the end of this month, the Trojans take their talents to The Goodwin at Stanford G.C.

The Women of Troy have also been contenders in nearly every event in recent history, winning 25 of their past 44 outings, including two this season. Next up is the Gifford Great 8 Collegiate Match in Brentwood, CA. USC enters the event as the No. 1 seed.

Runners Up

Out of a field of 14 at the Southwestern Invitational at the North Ranch Country Club, USC men's golf finished in second place yesterday.

As a team, the Trojans shot 5-under 859 (289-282-288), 16 strokes behind host Pepperdine.

Click here for the full recap!

USC has now finished on top or in second in four consecutive events. This time, senior Rico Hoey led the way, tying for fifth place with a 6-under 210 (67-68-73). He's finished in the Top 10 in each of his last five events.

Junior Sean Crocker was just behind at 4-under 212 (73-69-72) to finish in seventh place. Freshman Cheng Jin, meanwhile, finished strong to land in a career-best 11th place.

Next up for No. 4 USC is the Southern Highlands Intercollegiate in Las Vegas, which the team won last year.

Follow the Trojans on Twitter to stay up-to-date!

Hoey and Crocker for Hogan

USC men's golf senior Rico Hoey and junior Sean Crocker have been foundational pieces of the program's ascendancy to annual national title contenders under head coach Chris Zambri. The talented duo, which led the Trojans to back-to-back NCAA Championships semifinal appearances, made the 2017 Ben Hogan Award watch list.

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Hoey (pictured) and Crocker are being touted among the top 28 golfers in the country after outstanding fall seasons. Hoey boasts a pair of first-place finishes at the Gifford Collegiate and the Amer Ari Invitational as well as a team-best eight rounds under 70. Sporting a 70.12 stroke average, he has four top 10s, all in his last four events. He is a combined 33-under par in his last eight rounds.

Crocker leads USC in stroke average at 70.00 and has five top 16 finishes in as many starts this season, including three in the top 10. He has seven rounds under 70 and is a combined 17-under in his last four outings.

The Trojans, ranked No. 7 in the country, have four more tournaments before postseason play. For its next stop, USC will drive up to Westlake Village for the Southwestern Invitational (February 27-28).


Trojans Come Out on Top

Yesterday, USC's No. 6 men's golf team won the Gifford Collegiate Championship in a head-to-head battle with No. 8 Stanford.

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The Trojans beat Wisconsin, 5-0-1, and Northwestern, 4-2, to advance to the finals of the tournament in Napa, CA. They were locked in a 2-2-2 tie with the Cardinal, but Andrew Levitt and Justin Suh's victories earned USC a 7&6 tiebreak edge and the win.

USC has now won two straight team events after taking the Cypress Point Classic last week to bring the fall season to a close.

The golf team gets a break in competition before resuming on Feb. 2, 2017, at the Amer Ari Invitational in Waikoloa, HI.


21 Pilots

Heading into the 2016-17 season, representatives from each of USC's 21 sports met on top of the AT&T Center for the annual "All 21" photo shoot. The AT&T Center, just two miles from campus, overlooks the skyline of downtown Los Angeles, where the Trojans call home.

Top row, from left to right: Nick Bell (men's water polo), Nina Kelty (lacrosse), Rebekah Ent (cross country), Anika  Apostalon (women's swimming), Eric Sloan (men's track & field), Courtney Jaco (women's basketball), Karen Chung (women's golf), Lucas Yoder (men's volleyball), Reed Malone (men's swimming), Brianna Daboub (women's water polo), Sara Hughes (beach volleyball), Jeremy Martinez (baseball)

Bottom row, from left to right: Zach Banner (football), Zoe Katz (women's tennis), Jordan McLaughlin (men's basketball), Amalie Iuel (women's track & field), Madara Strautmane (rowing), Nick Crystal (men's tennis), Collin Pollard (men's diving), Taylor Whittingham (women's volleyball), Savannah Levin (women's soccer), Sean Crocker (men's golf), Madison Witt (women's diving)

Hole in Two

USC men's golf will open the 2016-17 season ranked No. 2 in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll.

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The Trojans, led by 11th-year head coach Chris Zambri, are coming off an impressive season which saw them advance to the NCAA semifinals. This year, they return all five starters from that squad, plus two top-notch recruits.

Only Texas is ranked ahead of USC in the preseason poll.

golf rank 2.jpg

Open Invitation

USC men's golf rising sophomore Justin Suh advanced through U.S. Open qualifying to earn a spot in the field at Oakmont this week.

Suh, known to his teammates as "Boomer", fired back-to-back 67s to book his ticket to the 116th U.S. Open. He is grouped with fellow Americans T.J. Howe and Frank Adams III in the second to last threesome to go off on Thursday (11:42 a.m. PT).

Fans can follow @USCMensGolf on Twitter for live updates of Suh's adventures on golf's biggest stage. Here is a sampling of his experience so far:

Keep Pushing

For the second consecutive season, USC men's golf made a deep postseason run, only to be turned away just shy of the program's first national championship. The Trojans entered match play as the No. 4 seed, defeating No. 5 Vanderbilt, 4-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals, before falling to No. 1 Texas, 4-1, in the national semifinals.

With the loss, USC officially tied for third, giving it its first back-to-back NCAA top 3 finishes since the Trojans came in third three years in a row between 1964-66. USC fell in the NCAA final a year ago.

"We fought hard all day, but we came up a little short," said junior Rico Hoey. "It was a great win in the morning, but we fell a couple matches short of our goal. We have a lot of talent on this team and luckily, no one is leaving, and I think this will make us stronger for next year."

Click here for the recap.

Hoey led the way all tournament long, taking second overall in the individual stroke play event, USC's highest finisher since Jamie Lovemark in 2007. He then won both his points in the match play, including pasting his Longhorn opponent, 6&5.

The Trojans will return their core talent next season, putting them among the favorites to contend for the crown yet again. Along with Hoey, freshman Justin Suh and sophomores Sean Crocker and Jonah Texeira picked up the points in the win over Vanderbilt.

First Things First

USC men's golf made it all the way to the NCAA Championship Match last year before being forced to settle for runner-up. Returning the same core players, the Trojans have been motivated all season to finish the tournament off this time around, but first, they need to qualify for the match play by finishing in the top eight of the four-day stroke play event in Eugene, Oregon.

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No. 3 USC won three times this season, so they remain one of the favorites to contend for the crown. The Trojans, who will tee off on Friday at 12:20 p.m., are led by All-American duo Rico Hoey and Sean Crocker.

Here is Hoey on the team's camaraderie ahead of the NCAA Tournament:

Par for the Course

In what's become somewhat of a regular phenomenon, the USC men's golf team is on it's way back to the NCAA Championships final for the 10th straight time. Sophomores Jonah Texeira and Sean Crocker, as well as freshman Justin Suh, all recorded 1-over 73s to lead the Trojans in a superb final round to a third place finish in the NCAA Albuquerque Regional on Wednesday. 

Despite the less than ideal weather conditions on USC's final day, including unusually high winds, the team pulled together to post the day's second-best final round at a combined 31-over 895 (291-311-293). Crocker anchored the Trojans' all weekend, tying his season-best effort with a second-place finish at 1-over 217. Suh tied for 17th at 10-over 226, recording a 73 in the final round to match his performance from day one. The sophomore Texeira matched Suh's 73 on Wednesday, finishing the weekend 22nd at 11-over 227. 

"Coach Goulding and I are so proud of our players," USC head coach Chris Zambri said. "In conditions that were so unlike what we play and practice in daily, our guys came through in a big way. It was trying to say the least and they had great attitudes all week. We are so pumped to get to Eugene and try to win a national championship."

In 2015, the Trojans reached the NCAA Championships match play final before falling to LSU in what was a best-ever postseason finish for the program. This season, they're looking to raise the bar just one peg higher and return to USC with a championship trophy. 

USC is one of 30 teams from six regionals to advance to the NCAA Championships set for May 27-June 1 at the Eugene (Ore.) C.C. Be sure to follow @USCMensGolf for a closer look at the Trojans' pursuit of a national championship! 

Championship Season

With six active teams in the national Top 5, including four conference title winners and two programs on undefeated runs, USC is ready for championship season.

Hoey Leads the Way

pac12-RICO.jpgNo. 3 USC men's golf has enjoyed a resurgence over the last three seasons thanks in large part to Rico Hoey, the first piece of the program's renovation. The junior leader was named All-Pac-12 First Team for pacing the Trojans in stroke average, rounds in the 60s (12) and top 10 finishes (eight).

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Hoey was joined on the conference honor roll by second team selections sophomores Sean Crocker and Jonah Texeira. Senior Andrew Levitt made honorable mention, while Justin Suh earned All-Pac-12 Freshman.

The Trojans will find out their NCAA Championships Regional destination on Thursday when the NCAA announces its field. They were the national runners-up last year and reached the No. 1 ranking this season.

Greatness Continues

USC men's and women's golf have championship caliber teams this season as the NCAA Tournament nears, but both programs also have storied pasts upon which the foundation for success was built. Trojan golfing history was recognized by the Pac-12, which placed four men and two women on the All-Century Teams.

The USC men had the Pac-12's Coach of the Century, Randy Lein, as well as four players: Scott Simpson, Sam Randolph, Craig Stadler and Dave Stockton - the most by any school in the conference. Two Women of Troy, Lizette Salas and Annie Park (pictured), were given all-century designation.

Click here for the full story on the men.

Click here for the full story on the women.

The men's quartet represents the historical greatness of the program highlighted by Stadler, the 1982 Masters winner, and Simpson, the 1987 U.S. Open champion. The Women of Troy have been a dominant program over the last decade led by national champions Salas, a four-time All-American, and Park, the 2013 National Player of the Year.


Trojans Finish Fifth

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

USC_Golf_North_rach_7033.jpgThe 2016 Pac-12 Championships concluded this weekend for USC's men's golf, as the Trojans placed fifth. No. 2 USC came into the fourth round 2-over and solidly in third place. They trailed just Stanford and California heading into the final round of play on Sunday in Utah.

Despite a strong showing through three rounds, the Trojans hit some rough patches on Sunday, but were able to finish in the Top 5. Rico Hoey led the way, finishing the weekend at even par 284 (70-70-72-72), which landed him in a tie for 11th.

There was another bright spot for the Trojans as UCLA finished behind them in the Pac-12 Tournament,  collecting 10 points in the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup, which USC officially clinched this weekend.

With the Pac-12 Championships over, the Trojans will turn their attention to the NCAA Regional Championships in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The Regional Championships will take place May 16-18 at a location to be determined later.
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