U.S. Collegiate Championship: USC stays balanced

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (March 26, 2008)--Sophomore Jamie Lovemark fired a 6-under 66 while freshman Gavin Reid carded a 2-under 70 to help the No. 6 USC men's golf team stave off a charging field and win its second tournament in the last three outings on the final day of the 2008 U.S. Collegiate Championship in Alpharetta, Ga., on Wednesday (March 26) at the Golf Club of Georgia's Lakeside Course.

The Trojans, who built a two-stroke lead after two rounds played in cold, snowy weather, won by three with a 54-hole par 864 (294-287-283). As the weather warmed Wednesday, so did the quality of play across the board, but Troy was still able to hold off second-place Oklahoma State (867-292-294-281), whose final round was the only one better than USC's on Wednseday.

"It was a great week," second-year Trojan coach Chris Zambri said. "Jamie had a great day and so did Rory. Gavin was huge today and Tim and Matt played a good back 9 when we needed them."

Top-ranked Alabama was third (872-294-289-289).

The Trojans had to fend off a field that included eight of the nation's top 11 ranked teams to secure their second victory of the season.

"I think (this win) is huge for us," Zambri said. "We've been talking a lot about how we can be a pretty good team, but you have to do some good things to back it up. I think this qualifies."

Lovemark tied for second at 7-under 209 (74-69-66), one stroke behind winner Trent Leon of Oklahoma State.

Leon earned his first collegiate victory after posting a 2-under 70 during his final round to finish at 208.

The Dallas, Texas native opened with a birdie before playing his next six holes in 4-over par. However, Leon rebounded with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to make the turn with a 1-over 37 before carding a bogey-free back nine that included three birdies to secure the victory.

Leon’s 8-under total put him one shot ahead of teammate Rickie Fowler, who tied USC’s Lovemark for second place.

Fowler, a freshman from Murrieta, Calif., found his way to the No. 2 spot after firing a final round of 67 that included six birdies on his way to a 209 total.

The tie for second was Lovemark's highest finish since taking second at the Isleworth-UCF Collegiate Invitational and was his seventh top 16 finish in as many outings this season.

Lovemark birdied six times in a near flawless round that marked his lowest score since a season-best 65 at the UH-Hilo Invitational on Feb. 7.

Though he tied for 58th at 14-over 230 (77-83-70), Reid's final-round 70 was huge for the Trojans as he regrouped from a rough first two days. His third walk of the course featured five birdies and a 2-under front 9 as he avoided the pitfalls that plagued his first two rounds.

Sophomore Rory Hie tied for 13th at 3-over 213 (75-73-71). He was enjoying a six-birdie outing and was 3-under overall on the final round before a double bogey on 17. But it didn't prevent Hie from his fifth straight top 13 finish.

Freshman Matthew Giles tied for 21st at 4-over 220 (72-72-76) while freshman Tim Sluiter tied for 28th at 6-over 222 (73-73-76). Both had their struggles during the first round, but steadied themselves on the way home to help keep USC's overall score down.

--Various AD reports used in this article

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