Top-ranked Southern California, Park take home titles at Pac-12 championship
No. 1 Southern California more than doubled its second-round lead en route to a 24-stroke win at the 2013 Pac-12 championships and Annie Park became the Trojans' third consecutive freshman to win the individual conference title as play finished at the Valencia Country Club on Wednesday.
USC combined for a 54-hole 11-under 853 (280-291-282), running away from the field from the start of final-round action and cruising home with the program's fifth conference title. The win is also USC's school-record tying fifth this season.
Washington finished second at 13-over 877, passing UCLA, which began the day in second, but 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 17th-year head coach Andrea Gaston, who earned her third conference title at the helm of the Trojans. "We wanted the girls to get off to a quick start [Wednesday] and that's exactly what they did. I'm very proud of all them. Annie played great 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 Troy's other winners.
Park 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 used a birdie on the ninth hole as a platform for her own hot streak as she worked herself back up the leaderboard. Park birdied the 12th and 13th holes to get to 5-under and then caught Popov at 6-under with a birdie on 15. She took over the lead when Popov bogeyed 17 while Park converted for par. 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. Park sunk her 20-foot shot 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). Freshman Kyung Kim tied for 20th at 7-over 223 (73-75-75).
Morris sank eight birdies on the day, including four during a 3-under front 9 and three others on 14, 15 and 17 to help offset a double bogey on 16. Chen's birdies on the first and ninth hole sandwiched five bogeys, but she came home on the back 9 at 1-under.
Park's win was her second this year, complementing her title at the Bruin Wave Invitational in March. It was also her fifth top-eight 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 consecutive top-10 finish and the sixth on the season, while Morris finished 10th for the third event in a row and Chen earned her fourth top-10 finish this year.
Following the final round, the Pac-12 released its all-conference teams and Popov, Park and Kim were named to the Pac-12 first team, Chen was selected to the second team and Morris earned honorable mention honors.