Second-Ranked USC Upends No. 1 Alabama to Win Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Golf Classic
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Southern California, the No. 2 women's golf team in the nation, came into Tuesday's final round of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate Golf Championship at the English Turn Golf & Country Club, trailing top-ranked Alabama by four strokes. However, an aggressive approach paid off as the Trojans took the team title with a three-day score of 869 (four over par). The tournament is recognized as one of the top in-season events in the nation as it featured eight of the top 12 teams in the nation and nine of the top 12 individual players.
Host Tulane, which came in ranked No. 15, finished in a tie for third place with No. 5 Duke to solidify a foothold among the nation's top golf teams. No. 8 Virginia and No. 6 Purdue each tied for fifth place to round out the top five teams.
Collegiate golf tournaments feature five players competing in each round for the schools, with the top four scores in each round counting towards the team result.
Southern Cal nearly didn't attend the New Orleans event, as it was the defending champions at a UCLA event scheduled for the same weekend.
"It was a tough decision," said USC head coach Andrea Gaston. "But I've got to tell you when I saw the weather we saw there was possible snow in Southern California. I was thinking, ‘I think I'm really happy to be coming to New Orleans.' The hospitality and the people here, it was just a fun week. We had fun the day we got here. The girls were loose and ready to have a good time. We were happy to come to warmer weather, actually. We knew the conditions would be different, far different than what we are accustomed to playing in, so I think we adapted really well to the conditions. One of the key things when I look at our scoreboard is that over the course of three days with five players our worst score was a 77. In that wind, I just can't say enough about our performance this week because of the way they were able to manage the conditions."
On the individual side, Alabama's freshman sensation Stephanie Meadow (pictured with Sugar Bowl President Lance Africk) won the title. Ranked No. 25 in the nation, Meadows held off top-ranked Megan McChrystal from LSU primarily behind her Monday performance, a six-under par 66. She finished the event at minus-5, one stroke ahead of McChrystal.
"I just went out there, did my best with every shot, tried to stay in the moment and not think too much about the result." Meadow said. "Coming in, I didn't really close the deal too much on 17 and 18. I made bogey on 18 and missed a short put on 17 for birdie. I wasn't really sure if that was going to be enough. Finding out that Megan (McChrystal) had an unfortunate couple of holes was kind of surprising."
"I honestly didn't know where I stood the entire time," said McChrystal, who bogeyed her final two holes. "Looking back, I felt like I played it too safe. I didn't trust my putting enough to roll them in. I just kind of got them close and tapped in, and that doesn't win. I'm just going to go home and get ready to play a home tournament. Hopefully I can win that one. I'm just going to take it for what it is. I finished second so I can't complain too much. I'll just learn from it. You can't complain being four under for the week out here. The scores weren't really that low. I hit the ball pretty solid. I'm okay with everything."
The Green Wave turned in a 5-over 293 during Tuesday's final round and concluded the inaugural event with a three-round, 15-over 879.
"This was a very good week for our program," Tulane head coach John Thomas Horton said. "We didn't quite play our best the last two days, but our first round kind of got us in a good position. I think we'll definitely learn from this. If you would have told me that we would finish third and lose to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country and that we would finish third in our home event and beat a lot of Top 10 teams, I'd be very happy with it. I think we definitely had a good learning experience of playing with the two best teams and what we need to do to get to the next level. I think we'll build off of this for sure."
Senior Linn Gustafsson and sophomore and No. 56th ranked Maribel Lopez Porras led the Green Wave during the final round with a pair of even-par outings, while 48th-ranked Janine Fellows produced a 2-over 74. Junior Ashley McKenneyMeghan Chapman went to the clubhouse with a 4-over 76. carded a 3-over 75 and junior
Porras turned in another solid performance for the Green Wave, finishing in fifth place with a 2-under 214 total. Gustafsson saved her best round for the last round and finished in 45th place with a 10-over 226.
"I hit a lot more greens today than I did in the first two rounds," Gustafsson said. "That was definitely one of the keys, hitting more greens. I didn't miss a lot of greens at all today. I had some good putting - just one birdie and one bogey. It was pretty solid day and I was able to turn it around. The weather helped all of us so that was nice. You could tell what your shot was going to do more compared to when it was windy yesterday mid-course."
Fellows registered her second top-20 finished this spring with a 1-over 217 and finished 14th, while McKenney was TU's low round player following the opening round, finished with a 9-over 223, which was good enough for 33rd place.
Individual Results (Top-10 only)