Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge
PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- On a day when many tee shots went wide, fairway drives fell short and putts lipped out, No. 1 Southern California, cushioned by strong first and second rounds, held on to win its spring opener at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge on Tuesday and extended its remarkable win streak to eight.
In the process, sophomore Annie Park, who, like her team, was buoyed by a big lead, also recorded her school-record tying fifth career win despite a string of five bogeys on the back 9.
The Trojans opened play with a 14-stroke lead and overcame some drama near the end of the final round to still win by seven at 14-over 866 (288-279-299) while hard-charging No. 3 Duke finished second at 21-over 873 (290-294-289). The only team better today than the Blue Devils was Arizona State, which turned in the only sub-par final round (281) to take third at 23-over 875. UCLA, which began the day 14 back of USC in second place, tied for fourth with Washington at 29-over 881.
Including its four fall wins, the Trojans have now opened the season with five straight titles. Prior to this year, they had never opened a season with consecutive victories. Before last year, USC had only won five events in a season once (2008). Now, under 18th-year coach Andrea Gaston, the Trojans have done it in back to back seasons after capturing seven wins en route to the 2013 NCAA title.
The win is USC's third at the Northrop Grumman after titles in 2010 and 2011, though the Trojans also won the 2008 Pac-10 title on the same course. Park's individual crown is Troy's second at the event, joining Irene Cho's 2006 win.
Park, who enjoyed a double-digit lead midway through the round today thanks to a 3-under front 9, "settled" for a seven-stroke victory at 6-under 207 (67-67-73). It was USC's best ever 54-hole total at the Palos Verdes G.C. (five better than Paola Moreno's 2008 Pac-10-winning total) and one off the tournament record set by LPGA star Lorena Ochoa in 2002 when she played for Arizona.
Fifth-ranked Duke closed with a five-over-par, 289, to finish second overall at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge with a 54-hole total of 873.
Backed by junior Noemi Jimenez’ career-low 66, No. 7 Arizona Staterecorded a season-best third round score of 281 to vault up the leader board at the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge and finish the tournament in third place.
Second-ranked UCLA tied with Washington for fourth place.