Southern California, looking very much like the No. 1 team in the country that Golfstat says it is, rolled to an 18-shot victory in the 71st Annual Western Intercollegiate, which concluded Sunday at the Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif.
In the Western, teams have six competitors and count five scores unlike the usual five-count-four setup that is most prevalent. That only did more to reveal the depth advantage the Trojans have over most programs.
Cheng Jin, USC’s talented freshman from China, had the sixth-best total among the Trojans when the final reckoning was done, his 9-over 219 total leaving him tied for 39th, but his opening round of 3-under 67 the 6,615-yard, par-70 Pasatiempo layout was Southern Cal’s best in an opening round of 3-under 347 that gave the Trojans the momentum that carried them to the team title.
Southern Cal added a 2-under 348 in the middle round and finished up with a 5-over 355 for an even-par 1,050 total. Two of the Trojans’ chief Pac-12 rivals, No. 7 Stanford and reigning national champion Oregon, ranked ninth, finished second and third with respective totals of 18-over 1,068 and 20-over 1,070. No. 29 Pepperdine took fourth at 28-over 1,078 and No. 33 Washington rounded out the top five in the 15-team field at 29-over 1,079.
The Cardinal only trailed USC by three after a middle round of 3-under 347, but struggled a little in a final-round 370 as the Trojans pulled away. Daylight ran out near the end of Saturday's double round and the second round was completed Sunday before final-round play commenced.
Southern Cal also had the individual champion in Justin Suh, a sophomore from San Jose, Calif. Suh had rounds of 68, 67 and 70 for a 5-under 205 total. Teammate Sean Crocker, a junior from Westlake Village, Calif., shared second place with Pepperdine’s Joshua McCarthy, a freshman from Danville, Calif., four shots behind Suh at 1-under 209.
Crocker finished with a flourish, a 3-under 67, while McCarthy had steady rounds of 70, 69 and 70.
Jonah Texeira, a junior from Porter Ranch, Calif., gave the Trojans a third top-10 finisher as he tied for eighth at 2-over 212. Texeira, a semifinalist at last summer’s U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club, started strong with a 2-under 68.
Rico Hoey, a senior from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Andrew Levitt, a redshirt senior from Ladera Ranch, Calif., were among the group tied for 21st at 5-over 215. Hoey finished up with a 2-over 72. Levitt’s effort was highlighted by a 3-under 67 in the middle round.
Jin rounded out Southern Cal’s effort with his tie for 39th.
Stanford wasn’t bad with three players in the top five, led by senior Maverick McNealy, the No. 2 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking from Portola Valley, Calif. McNealy finished alone in fourth place at even-par 210. He started off with a pair of 68s before cooling off with a final-round 74.
Stanford’s Isaiah Salinda, a sophomore from South San Francisco, Calif., and Bradley Knox, a junior from Menlo Park, Calif., were two of the three players tied for fifth at 1-over 211.
Salinda was tied for the lead with USC’s Suh going into the final round after adding a sizzling 4-under 66 to his opening-round 69, but fell back with a final-round 76. Knox had steady rounds of 71, 70 and 70.
Oregon’s Wyndham Clark, who joined the national champion Ducks for his redshirt senior year after playing at Oklahoma State, rounded out the group at 211. Clark, of Denver, fired a final round of 3-under 67.
California’s William Aldred, a redshirt freshman from England, didn’t finish among the leaders, ending up tied for 79th at 229, but he did have not one, but two holes-in-one during the weekend. He used a 9-iron to ace the 15th hole in the middle round and his 7-iron shot on the eighth hole in the final round also found the cup.