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March Mayhem

USC's second-ranked women's golf team picked up another win yesterday, when it topped the field at the SDSU March Mayhem event.

The Trojans, who won the event last year as well, beat four teams in just a day and a half to earn the crown.

First, USC took out No. 16 Yale, 4-1. Next, the Trojans swept No. 9 Old Dominion, 5-0, to advance to the semifinals against No. 12 Fresno State.

The Trojans took down the Bulldogs 3.5-1.5 to set up a battle with BYU in the finals. In that match, the Trojans took control and managed a 4.5-0.5 win.

The win is USC's third of the season, and the team has its eyes set on another when it takes on Pepperdine and Northwestern on Sunday.

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.

Birdie On My Shoulder

USC women's golf finished one stroke ahead of the pack to win the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge today.

Click here for the full recap!

The No. 2 Trojans set a tournament record with a 4-over 856 (285-282-289), in their spring opener. It's the fourth time in school history the team's taken home the title at the Northrop Grumman and the first time since 2014.

Senior Victoria Morgan led the pack with a par 213, tied for seventh overall. Sophomore Robynn Ree (14th) and senior Gabriella Then (17th) also finished in the Top 20.

Next up for USC is a trip to San Luis Obispo, CA for the Bruin Invitational on Feb. 27-28.

Karen Chung Goes Pro

Earlier this month, USC senior Karen Chung became the only current collegiate golfer to earn her full LPGA tour card at Q-School. The Livingston, N.J., native will forgo her final semester of NCAA eligibility to compete on the pro circuit around the world, joining a host of former Trojans currently on tour like Lizette Salas, Annie Park, Candie Kung, Jennifer Song and Belen Mozo -- all of whom played under USC's 21st-year head coach Andrea Gaston. Before hitting the greens, Chung sat down to reflect upon her time at USC, her goals as a professional and more.

USC_Womens_Golf_Long_beach_7990.jpgAubrey Kragen (AK): Can you start by describing the Q-School process and your emotions when it was finally over and you had earned your full LPGA tour card?

Karen Chung (KC): Q-School is a qualifying tournament to get your professional LPGA tour card. There are three stages that lasted from August to just a couple weeks ago. From the first stage, we started off with 400 girls, and they took the top 90. Then we moved on to the second stage, and it was 180 girls and they cut it down to 70. Then the final stage was 150, and I think the top 45 got conditional, but the top 20 got their full status. So I nudged into the top 20, and, wow, it was a long, long week. Including the practice round days, I think I was in Florida for two and a half weeks. The actual tournament was five days long, and after I finished and I knew that I made it, I didn't really believe it. But it happened.

AK: How incredible was it to be one of the top 20 out of 400 original participants?

KC: I didn't think I was going to make it that far. I kept telling my family, 'Even if I don't make it this time, I made it all the way here from 400 girls, so I'll take that.' But I got really lucky, and I made it.

AK: I'm sure that playing on the LPGA tour has been a dream of yours since you first started playing golf. Why did you decide to come play in college first?

KC: There are a lot of girls out there who just turn pro and don't experience college. And college is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Yes, you can come back and do whatever you want, but I just wanted to experience college right, so I decided to finish it first and then go pro.

AK: What are some things you learned here that have prepared you for the next step?

KC: As much as I don't want to admit it, I think college made me grow up and learn more about myself and my game. The girls on the team are some of the best players I've ever been around. They've pushed me to my limits, and I've learned a lot.

AK: Three of your teammates entered Q-School with you last month. What was that like, and did you all support each other along the way?

KC: There were four of us out of an eight-member team at USC, so I think Coach was panicking a little. Gabriella Then and Victoria Morgan played with me up until second stage, and then Tiffany Chan made it to final stage with me. But it felt like a team event for us, because everywhere we went, we wore the same SC clothes. So it was nice, and we always supported all four of each other. It was sad to see two of them leave after second stage, but Tiffany and I fought all the way.

AK: What did it mean to you to be the only current college player to earn the full tour card?

KC: That was really cool to know. I was just shocked, because I thought there would be other college players that made it. There were a number of really good college players.

USC_Womens_Golf_Long_beach_8539.jpgAK: You graduate in the spring, right? How do you plan to complete your degree once you've gone pro and what will it mean to have graduated from USC?

KC: I have one more class left. I'm going to travel and try to finish the class at the same time. I have some experience with that, because I had a full course load this semester and had to miss chunks some time for Q-School. I got really lucky to get to this point. Just being able to get my tour card and getting my degree from USC have been dreams of mine, so I'm so happy with how it all worked out.

AK: What's the next step for you as a new professional golfer?

KC: As of now, I'm still trying to figure out how the priority list and rankings work, to see which tournaments I get into. But I think the first tournament I'm playing is in the Bahamas at the end of January, so I'm looking forward to that and all the international tournaments. I went to Ireland for a tournament a couple years ago when I was a junior golfer. Starting my professional career in the Bahamas is not too shabby, and I think there are a lot of international swings, so that will be fun.

AK: Lastly, what are your goals as a professional golfer?

KC: For this first year out, I want to play well enough to secure my tour card for next year, obviously. But ultimately, I want to be one of the best out there, so hopefully I achieve that.

Stevens Center Academic Spotlight: Victoria Morgan

USC's student-athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond and pool --- they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a bit better in our academic spotlight.

_KON7639.JPGName: Victoria Morgan
Class: Senior
Sport: Women's Golf
Major: East Asian Studies (already received Bachelor's degree from USC in Philosophy, Politics and Law)
GPA: 3.77

AK: What are some of the most interesting things you learned as a Philosophy, Politics and Law major?

VM: I'm acting as a research assistant now for the same professor that mentored me when I published a paper a couple years ago in the USC Journal of Law and Society. In that paper I was able to research how international law deals with the concept of torture and how the CIA has tried to interpret international law ... I didn't know anything about international law going into college, and now that's one of the things I hope to focus on for the rest of my life. That and human rights.

AK: Do you plan to go to law school after graduating? What are your career goals?

VM: It's a little bit complicated. I hope to play professional golf for about five years and see what I can do out there, get on the LPGA and hopefully have a good career. But I'm more of an academic person; I definitely put the student part first in "student-athlete." So long term, I want to go to a top-notch law school. I'm hoping to go to Stanford --- as much as I want us to always beat them in football, I was just playing up there and got to meet Condoleezza Rice, who's a professor over there, and I love the academic rigor that their law school presents. Then after that, I'm interested in human rights. I'll maybe try to get into politics and see what I can do there. I'm not too sure after that.

AK: Is there any cause in particular that you're passionate about right now?

VM: Something that I've been studying recently is how best to deal with the power that the U.S. has. You obviously don't want to try to force other nations using military might to use the policies that you think are best, but at the same time you want to use the privileges that you have to aid others around the world. So there's a very delicate balance of forcing democracy on people versus helping. Nobody has all the answers, but I hope to pursue that further. A big goal would be to work for the United Nations --- that would be a dream come true.

AK: What was your conversation like with Condoleezza Rice?

VM: The most interesting thing she said was that she was studying to be a concert pianist when she was growing up, and she got to that level, but she decided that she was never going to be the absolute best in that, so she transitioned to something that was her true passion, which was politics. I think for all athletes, there comes a time when you don't want to play anymore or you're too old to play, and you have to transition to something else. So that showed me that you can be the best in two totally different worlds. That's what I hope to be: I hope to get to the very top at golf --- collegiate golf and then professional golf --- and then I hope to get to the very top in my academic aspirations as well.

AK: When you did get the opportunity to pursue a second degree here, why did you choose East Asian Studies?

VM: I took a semester of Korean language and most of my teammates are Korean. And women's golf is extremely popular in Asia, particularly in South Korea. So I've bumped into the East Asian culture over and over again and I've begun to love it over the years. My teammates are like sisters to me, so I wanted to pursue it further in a more academic setting. This semester I'm specifically focusing on China and Chinese politics.

AK: You've traveled to every continent, right? What are some of your favorite countries you've visited?

VM: My favorite place I've ever traveled was El Salvador. I got to go for the inauguration of President Funes in 2009 ... That was really a day of hope for the country. Everybody came out --- you see our elections get about 50 percent of people that come out and vote --- this was such a major part of their culture. Not only did so many people vote, but everybody was on the streets celebrating and partying. The hope that was in the air was palpable and unbelievable --- something I've never seen before in the U.S. So in terms of my academic interests, that was my favorite visit. South Africa was another favorite. I think South Africa might be, as far as the geography, the most beautiful country I've ever been to. It's pretty breathtaking. As far as somewhere I'd want to live if not in the U.S.: Sydney, Australia.

AK: Have your travels helped you in your classes?

VM: I think my edge for school is because I'm so interested in school ... not only am I a nerd, but I have a background in a lot of the things I'm studying. So when they bring up what may seem like an abstract theory or international relations concept, I can apply it to somewhere I've been, and it immediately becomes that much more interesting to me ... I think school, as with sports, if you have an unbelievable passion for it, you're bound to excel in it, even if you have a lot of other things going on.

AK: What was the award that you earned from Order of Troy and what did it mean to you?

VM: I did not expect to get the Order of Troy award. They give it to about 100 people in each graduating class, and it's for exemplary leadership, community service and academic excellence. I didn't know about it because the faculty votes on it. The nice thing about the major that I had was that the classes were relatively small and I got to know my professors. The professors here are so willing to mentor you if you show interest in their class ... The Order of Troy award meant a great deal and my parents were definitely excited and proud, which means the world to me.

Trophy Time

During the Trojans' game vs. Colorado on Saturday, USC's female student-athletes were presented their trophy and check for winning the 2015-16 Capital One Cup.

The Capital One Cup recognizes NCAA Division I athletics programs for their cumulative performance across multiple men's and women's sports. The Women of Troy earned their first ever Capital One Cup Trophy by winning two national championships (water polo and beach volleyball) and posting eight total Top-10 finishes (lacrosse, volleyball, golf, swimming, track and indoor track) last season. USC's spring sports helped catapult the program from 17th place at the end of the winter season to the top overall spot.

As part of the presentation, Capital One also presented USC with a $200,000 check for student-athlete scholarships.

Currently, USC's women's soccer, volleyball, golf, cross country and swimming programs are working to keep the Women of Troy atop the college athletics totem pole. Women's swimming heads to the SMU Classic on Friday, while volleyball faces Oregon in Eugene on Friday night. Women's golf will start play in the Stanford Intercollegiate tournament on Friday as well.

Golfing Glory

USC women's golf surged in the final round to win the season-opening ANNIKA Intercollegiate today for the second year in a row.

Click here for the full recap.

The Trojans, who won this event last year with a school-record 36-under, entered the final round today in fourth place. But the 2nd-ranked team in the nation shot 12 under par to finish 24-under 840 (279-285-276), erasing a 13-stroke deficit. USC finished two strokes ahead of Arkansas. UCLA was in first place coming into today, but finished in third.

Senior Victoria Morgan shot a 7-under 209 (69-70-70) to tie for eighth in the individual draw --- the highest she's placed in a full team event. Tiffany Chan, Gabriella Then (pictured) and Robynn Ree all finished at 4-under par, good for 17th place.


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)

#USC2RIO: Victoria Lovelady

The countdown is on to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and once again, USC will be represented by a roster of Trojans that would match most countries. Time to unveil your USC Olympians...

Name: Victoria Lovelady

Country: Brazil

Event: Women's Golf

Victoria (Alimonda) Lovelady needed a little bit of help before securing her spot at the Olympic Games. The 2008 national champion at USC finished just outside of the Top 60, but thanks to a couple well-timed withdrawals, she will represent her home country in the women's golf tournament. Lovelady is one of two Trojans from Brazil to qualify for Rio 2016, joining women's water polo goalie Victoria Chamorro.

"There is a not day that goes by that I am not asked about the Olympic Games," said Lovelady. "Everyone has been counting down to this."

While Brazil is not known for its dominance in golf, Lovelady will have a home course advantage. She was one of nine golfers to break in the new course in March. The women's tournament will run from August 17-20.


#USC2RIO: Tiffany Chan

The countdown is on to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and once again, USC will be represented by a roster of Trojans that would match most countries. Time to unveil your USC Olympians...

Name: Tiffany Chan

Country: Hong Kong

Event: Women's Golf

Tiffany Chan is one of three Trojans in the women's golf tournament at the Rio Olympics and the only one still in school. The rising senior picked up second team All-American honors in her first season at USC after transferring from Daytona State College.

Chan is one of only three amateurs to qualify among the 120 men and women golfers who will take part in Rio 2016. She boosted her resume by collecting wins at the Future Open in Taiwan and the Hong Kong Ladies Open.

As proud as the Trojan Family is to have Chan at the Olympics, she is an even bigger story back in Hong Kong, where they are trying to grow the game of golf. Mark Chan (no relation), the Hong Kong Golf Association president, called her "greatest thing ever to happen to Hong Kong golf."

On a personal level, Tiffany Chan is most appreciative to have parents who let her pursue this dream.

"They tried not to force me into studying to be a doctor or any professional career and it ended up I chose golf as a hobby and ended up telling them when in college that I might want to play golf as a career," she told reporters. "They've been big supporters of my journey, they never say a word that I shouldn't be an athlete, and I'm really thankful and grateful that I have parents like them."


#USC2RIO: Candie Kung

The countdown is on to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and once again, USC will be represented by a roster of Trojans that would match most countries. Time to unveil your USC Olympians...

Name: Candie Kung

Country: Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)

Event: Women's Golf

The Olympics is reintroducing golf for the first time since 1904, and the Women of Troy will be well represented with three alums, including Candie Kung.

"We are excited to have three of our athletes competing in the Olympics next month," said USC women's golf coach Andrea Gaston. "Now that golf has returned to the Olympics, it is a tremendous honor to finally have our players among the many other Trojan Olympic greats representing their respective countries."

Ranked No. 33 in the world, Kung has raked in $6.9M in earnings during her LPGA career which dates back to 2002. She has four LPGA victories on her resume with the latest triumph coming in 2008.

At USC, she was a two-time All-American and won the 2000 Pac-10 Championship.


Unqualified Success

USC women's golf rising sophomore Robynn Ree (pictured) will get to test her game on two of the sport's biggest stages this summer, qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open (July 7-10 in San Martin, California) and the U.S. Women's Amateur (August 1-7 in Springfield, Pennsylvania).

Click here for more.

Going up against the game's best, Ree will see at least have one comforting face on the course at the U.S. Open as incoming freshman Allisen Corpuz also qualified as an amateur. She will be joined by rising senior Gabriella Then at the U.S. Amateur. Fox Sports 1 or FOX will carry the majority of both events.


Out Matched

USC women's golf cruised through four rounds of stroke play to qualify for the NCAA Quarterfinals as the three-seed, but the match play format, which determines the national champion, haunted the Women of Troy for the second consecutive season. USC fell to Duke, 4-1, as only junior Karen Chung (pictured) was able to secure a point for the Trojans.

Click here for the recap.

While the Women of Troy have plenty of postseason experience on their roster, senior Kyung Kim is the only starting player expected to depart. The three-time All-American bounced back from an injury this season to lead the Trojans to a Pac-12 title.

"It's been a great career here," Kim said. "We started with a team title in 2013 and have come so close the last three years to winning another. Today was tough but we ran into a Duke team that played extremely well today."


Regional Co-Champs

No. 1 USC women's golf won its seventh consecutive NCAA Regional, tying host Stanford for first place, to qualify for the NCAA Championships (May 20-25 in Eugene, Oregon). The Women of Troy have made the NCAA Tournament for 19 consecutive years.

Click here for the recap.

Junior Tiffany Chan led the way for the Trojans, tying for fourth overall at 2-under. Junior Gabriella Then (pictured) made the Top 10, and freshman Robynn Ree took 13th.


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.

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.


We Are The Champions

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 2 USC women's golf team is the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament Champions, defeating crosstown rival UCLA by three strokes on Wednesday afternoon. This is the program's sixth conference title and fifth tournament win this season. The Women of Troy led the entire tournament with all five golfers finishing at par or better. It's the program's first championship since 2013 when it went on to win the NCAA Championship as well. 

Click here for a full recap of the Women of Troy's Pac-12 Championship.

All five USC golfers finished in the top 18, with junior Gabriella Then leading the pack with a third-place finish. It was her first top 10 finish since the season-opener in September. The Women of Troy will now advance to the NCAA Regional Championships May 5-7, looking for its nation-best seventh straight regional championship and 12th overall.

Leading the Pac

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 2 USC women's golf team entered the second day of competition at the Pac-12 Tournament with a comfortable four-stroke lead, and it finished the day with an even more comfortable 13-stroke lead at 23-under at 553 after 36 holes. Junior Gabriella Then led the Women of Troy with a career-best 7-under 65, and she leads the entire tournament by one stroke, looking to become USC's seventh Pac-12 medalist.

Click here for a full recap of the second day of the Pac-12 Tournament.

No. 4 UCLA and No. 11 Arizona are the two teams trailing USC, tied for second in the tournament at 10-under. The Women of Troy's 275 performance on Tuesday broke the school record for lowest overall score at the Pac-12 Tournament, and the team had its second straight school-record round for most under par.

The Women of Troy are back in action at the Ruby Hills Golf Course for day three of competition on Wednesday, looking for their first Pac-12 Tournament since 2013.

Early Favorites

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 2 USC women's golf team is off to a comfortable four-stroke lead at the Pac-12 Tournament, after all five competitors scored under par in the opening round on Monday. The Women of Troy are on a quest for their sixth conference title, the last time being in 2013 when they went on to win the NCAA Championship.

Click here for a full recap from the first round at the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Trojans wrapped up the opening round at 10-under 278, four strokes ahead of No. 4 UCLA and seven better than No. 10 Arizona State. The 278 opening round ties USC's best score at the Tournament dating back to the final round of the 2009 Pac-12 Tournament versus Stanford. Junior Tiffany Chan led the Women of Troy with a 67, her fourth round below 70 this season, and she trails the leader by just one stroke. Her 67 round is tied for the third lowest round in USC's history at the Pac-12 Championships.

The Women of Troy return to the links on Tuesday paired up again with crosstown rival UCLA at the Ruby Hills Golf Course in Pleasanton, California. Be sure to follow @USCWomensGolf for updates all week long!

Swinging Back

Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

The game of golf is notoriously uncertain. From the unpredictability of weather on any given day to the potential for inconsistent play, much is out of an athlete's control. Mirroring the game she plays, Kyung Kim faces even more uncertainty.

USC_Womens_Golf_Long_beach_8217.jpgKim, a senior on USC's No. 1 women's golf team, has been dealing with a wrist injury this season, affecting her ability to contribute. Though well enough to play in the regular season finale this past weekend, her wrist injury has planted a seed of doubt.

"It's kind of been a frustrating year for me because of this wrist injury that's been going on for the past two years," said Kim. "I don't really know when it pops up, so it can be all of a sudden during a tournament."

The two-time All-American first teamer has a lot depending on that wrist. Not only do the Women of Troy have national championship aspirations, but Kim has long hoped to compete at the professional level.

Well before she played for the Trojans, she started playing golf in Hawaii at the age of eight when her father often brought her out to the golf course. Her father was her biggest influence for getting into golf after seeing him have so much fun playing with his friends. Since then she's been on track to play professionally.

"My parents pushed me a lot since I was young. They wanted me to go to college and graduate. They're very supportive and want to see what my future holds with golf," said Kim.

After seeing their daughter devote herself to golf from an early age, Kim's parents got the best of both worlds when she committed to USC. Kim said from the minute she toured the campus she knew she'd found a new home.

"I really wanted to play for a top-ranked team and I liked the school, everything about it. I loved the team members because I'd known them from junior golf, so I just knew I was going to fit in," she explained.

From the familiarity of the young women on the team, coupled with a great recruiting trip and her love for the principles of the Trojan Family, it was a match made in heaven.

Her fondest memory at USC to date was winning a national championship her freshman year, part of an eight-tournament win streak that continued into her sophomore season. That 2013-14 team won a school-record nine events.

"We kind of felt unbeatable," she said with a laugh. "We felt really confident going into every tournament. We knew if one player didn't have a good day the other four would make up for it. It was really fun every tournament."

After being a part of a national championship-winning team her freshman year, the three-time All-American is itching to win again, and she won't let a nagging injury get in the way of a chance to win her second national championship in four years. The No. 1 ranked Trojans got a huge boost this past weekend as Kim won all three of her match-play matches, helping the Trojans take down No. 4 Northwestern and No. 6 Georgia en route to third place at the Liz Murphey Invitational.

"Kyung has been one of our most steady players throughout her USC career, even when she's not at her best," said head coach Andrea Gaston. "As a three-time All-American, she is the spark that can take us from good to great."

After USC, she plans to return to Hawaii at some point and start playing golf professionally. Kim knows she'll have her teammates, coaches and the Trojan Family with her wherever she goes, but that won't stop her from soaking up these last few putts and drives in college.

If her wrist stays healthy, Kim and her teammates should be in for a very exciting end to the season and could vie for her second NCAA team title. For now, she's focused on just that, looking to go out on top in her final season at USC.

The postseason begins in less than two weeks, at the upcoming Pac-12 Championships, which will take place April 18-20, in Pleasanton, California.
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