USC men’s golf finished second in the Southwestern Invitational, which concluded on Tuesday.
Hosted by Pepperdine at the North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif., the tournament saw USC lose the chance to defend its previous title. The Trojans finished the invitational tied for second alongside Arizona State [+3,867], while Pepperdine became the new champion [-14,850].
USC had a steep hill to climb going into the third and final round of play. Due to a solid second round the previous day, the Trojans began the day in a good position to overtake the other leaders. The day began with USC in third behind Arizona State, with Pepperdine holding onto the lead. The Trojans had a deficit of four strokes to second and 17 strokes to first to deal with. USC’s newcomers pushed the team into second place with impressive performances by junior Leon D’Souza and sophomore Yuxin Lin.
Pepperdine senior Sahith Theegala, who placed first overall [-6, 66], consistently showed his prowess on the course, recording a score of 5-under-par on the front nine holes. Notably, Theegala took first while wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey in memory of the late basketball player who tragically passed away two days prior.
D’Souza took second place at 5-under-par, showing consistent birdies across the board. The tournament marked D’Souza’s second time placing within the top three in intercollegiate tournaments, the last time being at the Bill Cullum Intercollegiate in 2019.
One of the most memorable showings of the day included a stellar performance from Lin, who shot three-under-par , placing him second among the Trojans and tied for 14th overall. He also recorded USC’s only eagle of the day on the 12th hole.
Junior Issei Tanabe looked to open the season with a strong showing after earning 2019 All-Pac-12 honorable mention notice last season. However, Tanabe started the day off on a rough note. After double-bogeying the first hole of the day, he regrouped in the later holes through multiple birdies. After birdieing the 15th hole, Tanabe went under par, ultimately ending the day at 1-under-par  in a three-way tie for 29th place.
In his sixth collegiate appearance, sophomore Cameron Henry posted 5-over-par . Henry showed consistent bogeys throughout the final round, with the highlights of his day coming from two birdies in the eighth and 10th holes. At the end of the day, Henry tied for 50th place.
Senior Kyle Suppa played a tumultuous round that led to him finishing the day at even . He began the day with a roaring start but double-bogeyed twice within the front nine. Suppa shook off his early struggles with five birdies on the back nine, but his momentum was halted as he bogeyed and double-bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes. Overall, while his score was similar to his collegiate average [73.46], Suppa’s scorecard was inconsistent.
Not present throughout the campaign were freshman Tyler Guo and junior Kaito Onishi.
While there was initial worry that USC would not be able to balance the departure of graduate Justin Suh, the team exceeded expectations this weekend with multiple strong under-par showings. Given the results of the first invitational of the year, it is clear that the Trojans can look forward to a bright season.
USC will be back in action Feb. 6 at the Amer Ari Invitational in Waikoloa, Hawaii.