PLEASANTON, CA (April 20, 2016) – USC (846) had to hold on for dear life after struggling on the final day of the Pac-12 Women's Championship. The Trojans began the day ahead by 13-strokes but a disappointing final round and a surge by UCLA (849) cut the final deficit to three. Fortunately for USC, the Bruins ran out of holes, and they were able to hoist the conference tournament trophy for the fourth time in school history.
All five Trojan players finished inside the top-20. Junior Gabriella Then (-8) began the day in the lead but finished the day T3 following a closing 1-over 73. She ended up three-strokes behind winner Linnea Strom of Arizona State.
“It was a real nail biter,” USC head coach Andrea Gaston said. “Our team hung tough down the stretch and thankfully we held on for the win. This is a great conference with a lot of talented teams so anyone can get hot and win this championship. Our team played their hearts out and gave an amazing performance.”
Also in the top-20 for USC were junior Karen Chung (-3) and junior Tiffany Chan (-3) both finishing T10 while freshman Robynn Ree (-1) placed T12 and senior Kyung Kim (-1) was T18.
The real excitement on the final day came in the medalist race. USC's Then began the day leading by one, but fine play from a handful of players over the course, dropped her off the lead. The most notable moves came from Arizona State freshman Linnea Strom (-11) and UCLA junior Bronte Law (-10).
Strom, from Hovas, Sweden, has been playing some of her best golf of the year. Coming into play this week Strom had finished second and third in each of her last two starts but she had never won a collegiate event before. That all changed Wednesday as she put together a career-best 6-under 66 to win the tournament. She capped her remarkable run with her sixth birdie of the day on the final hole to break a tie with Law. Strom began the day 5-under and four off the pace following rounds of 71-68.
Strom's 11-under 205 is a new conference 54-hole scoring record.
"I had a good feeling the whole day," Linnea Strom said. "I played really good the first two rounds, but felt I had more and better shots to take ahead of me. My focus was to go out and give it all I had."
Law also shot a 6-under 66 but was one shot further back to begin play today and as a result finished one-shot out of a playoff. The Stockport, England native also played bogey-free golf.
-USC and Arizona State athletics contributed to this story
ROUND TWO STORY
In their quest for a fourth conference title USC (553) has nearly run away and hid from the rest of the field at the Pac-12 Women's Championship. The Trojans will carry a 13-stroke lead into tomorrow's final round and their next closest competitors are Arizona (566) and UCLA (566) both T2.
USC has been so good through two days at Ruby Hill Golf Club that they have twice broken records. Yesterday as a team the Trojans shot a 278, a new team record. Just about 24 hours later they broke the record with a second round team score of 275. USC is now 23-under-par for the tournament.
In the second round junior Gabriella Then (-9) shot the round of the tournament and jumped from T5 into first place. Following a 2-under 70 yesterday Then exploded with a 7-under 65 in the second round. Then played nearly flawless golf with her only bogey coming on the 14th. However, her eight birdies more than made up for her one blemish.
The 65 was a career best for Then and fifth best ever by a Trojans golfer.
With all that said Then will need another strong round on Wednesday to claim the medalist title. Colorado senior Alexis Keating (-8) is only one back after scores of 70-66. In total, six players are within four strokes of the lead.
Now back to the USC dominance thus far, the other four Trojans in the field this week have also come in under-par after the opening 36-holes.
Freshman Robynn Ree (-5) and junior Tiffany Chan (-5) are both T5, junior Karen Chung (-4) is T8 and senior Kyung Kim (-1) is T18.
-USC athletics contributed to this story
ROUND ONE STORY
USC (278) has already won four-times this year, a fifth would mean a fourth Pac-12 Women's Championship. The Trojans took a step in the right direction during Monday's first round and lead by four over UCLA (282) at Ruby Hill Golf Club.
USC currently holds claim to three players in the top-5. Junior Tiffany Chan (-5) in second place is leading the Trojans after an opening 67. Chan birdied five and bogeyed two in the first round.
Freshman Robynn Ree (-2) and junior Gabriella Then (-2) are T5. They are part of an 11 player tie for fifth.
Freshman Haley Moore (-6) playing her first conference tournament round jumped to lead with an opening day bogey-free 66. Moore, the only amateur to make the cut at the 2015 ANA Inspiration, birdied three holes on each nine for a pair of 33's.
Rounding out the team top-5 standings are Arizona State (285) in third and Oregon, Arizona and Colorado all at 286 and tied for fourth.