ATHENS, Ga. (May 22, 2013) -- No. 1 USC got four rounds under par, led by freshmen Annie Park (5-under) and Kyung Kim (3-under), broke the NCAA record for team low round (276) and established a 12-shot lead at the halfway point of the 2013 NCAA Women’s Golf Championships at the University of Georgia G.C. in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday (May 22).
The Trojans, playing in the morning wave, combined for a 12-under 276 that was one better than Arizona State’s 277 (11-under) from the 1998 NCAA Championships. USC’s round was also its second-best in school history behind only a 275 at the 2010 Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational at the Tacoma C.C. USC’s previous best at an NCAA Championship was a 282 in 2010.
USC finished the day at 16-under 560 (284-276) and will begin the third round with a 12-stroke lead over second-place Alabama, which finished at 4-under 572 (288-284). The Crimson Tide defeated USC by one stroke last year. Duke is third at 1-under 575 (286-289).
“The girls played tremendously today,” USC Coach Andrea Gaston said. “But no lead is safe and as I always say, we need to stay in the moment and take one shot at a time, which is what we did today.
“You’re always looking to see each player get their rhythm for the day and stay patient and stay in the moment. When you start to see a few good shots and a few putts fall, that’s when you feel like something good is happening and it almost seems like they fed off each other.”
Park, coming off firsts at the 2013 Pac-12 Championship and at the 2013 NCAA West Regional (where she tied for first), is in second at 7-under 137 (70-67), one back of Alabama’s Stephanie Meadow (136). The two were in the same threesome today and both finished at 5-under. Vanderbilt’s Jenny Hahn is third overall at 6-under 138 (71-67).
Park, however, is just one of four Trojans in the top 16. Juniors Rachel Morris and Sophia Popov are tied for sixth at 3-under 141 after identical rounds of 71 and 70 while Kim is tied for 16th at 1-under 143 (74-69). Sophomore Doris Chen is tied for 69th at 6-over 150 (72-78).
“We still have halfway to go,” said Park when discussing USC’s double-digit lead. “We just have to continue doing what we’re doing, focus on each shot and take one hole at a time.
“Compared to yesterday, I made more putts, which was my goal today. I was hitting better drives, but mostly it was putting.”
Park’s 67 is tied for USC’s second-lowest round at an NCAA Championship with Jennifer Song from 2010. Jennifer Rosales holds the school record with a 66 en route to the 1998 NCAA individual title.
The Trojans, who began the day tied for first with San Jose State, began on the 10th hole in the morning and Kim got them off to a good start with a birdie on 1. Before long, USC had extended its lead on the front 9, where it finished 7-under among its counting scores.
The Trojans remained hot on the back 9, led by Park and Kim, who each posted three birdies without a bogey. Popov was even on the back while Morris was 1-under until two late bogeys.
Park finished with five birdies without a bogey while Kim had four birdies against one bogey. Both Popov and Morris had four birdies against two bogeys.
“I felt pretty good going out on 10. I made a couple putts at the beginning to get off to a rather good start,” Popov said. “I had a good first 9. I saw the leaderboard and noticed we were quite a few strokes under par. I knew they must have it going at the back and it gave me the motivation to try to get lower. I was struggling a little on the back 9 but I think I grinded out it out pretty well and am happy with the round.”
Said Kim after her round: “The front 9 for me was just steady golf. The back 9, everything kind of came together. I was hitting better shots and my putts started to go in. Everyone did well today. It feel great to look up and see a big lead.”