Amari Avery (Courtesy of USC Athletics)
Well, that didn't take long.
Playing in just her second collegiate stroke play event since arriving at USC a month ago as a spring enrollee, Amari Avery
, the highly-touted freshman from Riverside, Calif., won the Icon Invitational on Tuesday at the Golf Club of Houston while leading USC to the team title.
The four-time Rolex All-American made seven birdies en route to a final round 65 to finish at 15-under 201, earning a one-stroke win over Texas Tech's Amy Taylor
. Her 15-under score also tied a USC record for 54-hole event, previously owned by Trojan 2006 NCAA champion Dewi Claire Schreefel, who set the mark in 2007.
Avery, who had only two bogeys all tournament, is also the first Trojan to post a pair of 65s in one tournament.
"Amari's performance was spectacular and we couldn't be more proud of the way she has transitioned from high school to college," said USC head coach Jay Silverstein.
Once billed as "Tigress" by her father, Andre, the similarities between Avery and her childhood hero, Tiger Woods, are uncanny.
She shares a birthday with Woods and according to their birth certificates, she was born in the exact hour and minute as her idol. Avery is also a daughter of an African-American golf instructor and an Asian mother and made her first hole-in-one at Heartwell Golf Course in Long Beach, where Woods recorded his first ace almost exactly 28-years to the day.
Avery, the 2019 California Women's Amateur champion, first came into the national spotlight in 2013 when she starred in the Netflix documentary, "The Short Game." She played in her first U.S. Women's Open last year at the Olympic Club in San Francisco and will make her second appearance at the Augusta National Women's Amateur in April.
Another prize of Silverstein's recruiting class, Cindy Kou
, tied for third at 13-under par 203 to notch her third top-five finish of the season. Prior to arriving at USC, Kou won 11 AJGA events, tied for seventh all-time among female golfers, and was ranked as high as third nationally in the AJGA rankings in 2020.
Senior Katherine Muzi
(68-73-71), who won the Pac-12 Preview in November, and sophomore Michaela Morard
(69-72-71) tied for 11th at 4-under 212 while sophomore Brianna Navarrosa
tied for 16th at 2-under 214 (71-70-73).
It was a dominating performance for USC, which found its way back to the winner's circle for the first time since winning the 2021 Pac-12 Championship. The Trojans jumped on the field early by shooting a school-record 18-under par 270 in the first round and were 25-under for the tournament after posting a second-round score of 7-under 281.
"It was great to see this group come out early in the final round and make a few birdies to really slam the door shut on this tournament," said Silverstein said. "A lot of smart work went into this record-setting performance and I'm thrilled that this group is getting rewarded for that work."
ABOUT THE ICON Invitational
54-hole women's college tournament hosted by the
University of Houston. Team (best four scores out of
five players) and individual competitions.
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