USC men’s golf struggles at Maridoe Invitational

USC finished 14th out of 15 teams in its second tournament of the season.

A photo of USC freshman golfer Jackson Rivera swinging a driver.

USC faced off against 14 of the top Division I men’s golf teams Monday through Wednesday at the Maridoe Invitational in Carrollton, Texas.

It was a long three days full of struggles for the USC men’s golf team. After shooting a combined 21-over par on Monday, USC could not get things clicking throughout the rest of the week, finishing at a disappointing 14th place with a score of 70-over-par. No. 5 Texas won the 54-hole stroke play event, posting a combined 3-under-par.

The bright spot of the week was freshman Jackson Rivera, who shot the lowest score among USC’s starters for the second straight time in as many starts.

“He is going to be a star for us and play a lot of good golf for USC,” head coach J.T. Higgins said after the tournament.

Rivera was a four-time Rolex All-American and the No. 2-ranked junior golfer in California coming out of Torrey Pines High School in San Diego.

He started the tournament off on a good note with three birdies in his first nine holes. Despite also hitting a few bogeys along the back nine, he was still able to finish Round 1 with a respectable score of 2-over 74.

Rivera could not improve upon his solid start on Day 2, finishing with a 4-over 76, but he represented the Trojans well and finished Day 3 of the tournament with an overall score of 224 (74-76-74), tied for 28th among the 75 participants.

Rivera is not the only new player making strides for the Trojans; the young team has seven newcomers on the roster, four of whom are freshmen. All four freshmen started for the Trojans this week.

However, Higgins said the Trojans’ inexperience and lack of mental fortitude cost them on the course.

“We’re young, but that’s no excuse; physically we have all the tools and in practice and in qualifiers we look fantastic, and we just haven’t taken it to the golf course at all,” Higgins said. “That’s a sign of our mental toughness and emotional maturity and we just got a long ways to go.”

After the performance, USC will look to improve on all aspects of its game. Higgins looks to especially focus on the mental side and simply keeping the ball in play off the tee. Maridoe was an exceptionally difficult golf course with crosswinds and trouble at every hole. Still, USC has far too much talent on its roster to be finishing second to last in any tournament.

USC will return home for two weeks before heading back to Texas for the Colonial Invitational in Fort Worth Oct. 4-5.