Senior Lisa McCloskey tied for first while sophomore Sophia Popov and freshman Doris Chen joined her in the top 10 as No. 3 USC completed its wire-to-wire win at the 2012 NCAA Women’s Golf Central Regional on Saturday at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio.
With the win, the No. 1-seeded Trojans punched their ticket to the NCAA championship final for the 15th time in a row, all under 16th-year head coach Andrea Gaston.
USC led by one stroke after the first round, by 12 after 36 holes and finished with a 25-stroke victory at 10-over 874 (298-290-286), wrapping up play with a final-round 2-under 286. Joining Troy in the top 8 was second-place Vanderbilt (899), followed by Purdue (902), Tennessee (904), Virginia (905), host Ohio State (908) and Arkansas (913).
The top eight teams from the NCAA West, Central and East Regionals plus two individuals from each field advanced today to the championship round, scheduled for May 22-25 at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn., hosted by Vanderbilt.
The Trojans have now won an-NCAA-best eight regional titles, including three in a row and in six of the past seven seasons. The victory was also USC’s second this season.
“The girls played great,” Gaston said. “It was a dominating performance, but our work isn’t done. I hope our best is yet to come.”
USC is after its third NCAA title. It won national crowns under Gaston in 2003 and 2008 and has finished in the top five in each of the past six years.
McCloskey’s tie for first was a Trojan career-best finish at 3-under 213 (73-68-72), bettering her second place at the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate in April. She was 3-under during her final round and 6-under for the event before three late bogeys dropped her back to par for the day. The finish was her team-best eighth in the top 10 this year.
Popov tied for fourth at 2-over 218 (78-68-72). She opened with a 2-under back 9 before dropping to even after a double on 11. She mixed two more birdies with bogeys to finish the round at par for her fifth top 8 finish this year.
Chen, the 2012 Pac-12 individual winner, followed her title with a tie for eighth at 5-over 221 (72-77-72) for her fifth top 10 effort this season. She was 1-over on the front 9 and 1-under on the back with four birdies on the day.
Sophomore Rachel Morris registered her best finish since October with a tie for 18th at 10-over 226 (79-77-70). She turned in USC’s best final round with four birdies, including three on a 3-under back 9.
Senior Inah Park wrapped up play tied for 26th at 12-over 228 (75-78-75). She posted a 2-under front 9 and was still even until a triple on the 18th hole. The finish was her sixth result of tied for 26th or better this year.