Southern California rallies in final round to take home West Regional title
Freshman Annie Park tied for first to finish atop the leaderboard for the second event in a row and fellow freshman Kyung Kim fired a school-record 63 to climb into a tie for third. The duo of Park and Kim led Southern California to a come-from-behind win on the final day of the NCAA West Regional at the Stanford Golf Course on Saturday.
USC, coming off a win at the Pac-12 championships, won its fourth consecutive NCAA regional for its school-record sixth win of the season at 7-over 859 (290-289-280), edging second-round Purdue by one stroke to advance to its 16th consecutive NCAA final.
The Boilermakers finished at 8-over 860 (291-286-283). Vanderbilt took third at 17-over 869, while South Carolina (874) and host Stanford (875) took fourth and fifth, respectively.
The Trojans, whose win was their NCAA-best ninth regional title, trailed Purdue by two strokes and Vanderbilt by one entering the final round, but passed both thanks to Park's and Kim's fine rounds.
A two-time winner already this season, Park claimed her third victory of the season at 7-under 206 (67-71-68). She had five birdies on the day and was at 4-under through 17 before a bogey on 18 prevented her from taking first alone. She shared first with Purdue's Paula Reto (71-69-66), who was part of Park's threesome on Saturday.
The main showstopper Saturday was Kim, who turned in a nine-birdie day, including four in a row between 14 and 17, to card a 63 and break the school record shared by Lisa McCloskey (2010) and Irene Cho (2006) at 64. All three rounds were 8-under.
Kim, who tied for third at 3-under 210 (75-72-63), opened with birdies on 1 and 2 and complemented them with birdies on 7 and 8. She bogeyed 10 and then birdied five of her final seven holes for her 63.
"I've been working really hard and it just feels great to have my game come around," said Kim, who is one of three Trojans to win individual titles this year. "I hope to take this with me to the NCAA championships."
Junior Rachel Morris was USC's next-best finisher at 10-over 223 (75-73-75), while junior Sophia Popov (73-73-78) and sophomore Doris Chen (75-75-74) tied at 11-over 224.
USC's sixth win breaks the school record of five set in 2008, when the Trojans won their second and most recent NCAA title.
"It feels great to win and help set the record with six team wins this season," Park said. "I'm so honored to be on this fabulous team and that I can be part of every moment."