ATHENS, Ga. -- No. 1 Southern California -- behind victories by sophomore Kyung Kim and freshmen Gabriella Then and Karen Chung -- defeated No. 5 Arkansas in the match play final of the Liz Murphey Invitational to win its school-record eighth tournament this season on Sunday at the UGA G.C.
The Trojans entered the weekend winners of seven of eight events this year -- all in 54-hole stroke play format. The eighth win came after a fourth-place finish in 18 rounds of stroke play Friday (with the top eight advancing to a winner's bracket) that preceded match play wins against Auburn (3-1) and North Carolina State (3-1) on Saturday and a win versus Arkansas (3-2) on Sunday.
USC, which played in Georgia without senior All-American Sophia Popov and sophomore All-American Annie Park, has won three in a row after its school-record eight-event win streak was snapped earlier this year. The Trojans have now won 11 of its past 12, 14 of 16 and 15 of 18 dating back to the fall of 2012.
Kim dominated her match over Razorback Gaby Lopez, taking a 4 up lead through five holes, going up 5 after seven holes and clinching it at 5 up after 14. Kim won twice in match play and was leading in her third match against North Carolina State when it was suspended on 15 after USC clinched its win.
Chung never trailed in her win against Summer Roachell. She had a 2 up lead reduced to a tie after the seventh hole. But she regained the lead with a par on 9 and clinched the win after a birdie on 13 and pars on 14 and 15. She won all three matches this weekend.
USC's two losses came from sophomore walk-on Victoria Morgan, who won her semifinal match but fell 3&2 to Regina Plascenia, and junior Doris Chen, who lost 4&3 to Emily Tubert.
With Kim leading big against Lopez, the decisive match would come down to Then and Razorback Emma Lavy. The two were tied for most of the front 9 before Then took a 1 up lead after 7. That's where the score remained until a par on 13 gave Then a 2 up lead. It was reduced to 1 up after 16 and the golfers each parred 17. Then clinched the win with a birdie on the par 5 18th hole while Lavy settled for par.
The Trojans will complete the regular season at the Oregon/UC Davis Silverado Invitational, April 14-15, in Napa, Calif.