A strong season that featured six wins, including a Pac-12 and NCAA Regional title, finished abruptly at the hands of a hot Duke team that defeated USC, 4-1, in the NCAA Championships match play quarterfinals on Tuesday (May 24) at the Eugene (Ore.) C.C.
The Trojans, in search of their fourth NCAA title, played well in today’s matchup, but couldn’t keep up with a Blue Devil squad that made few mistakes Tuesday and missed even fewer putts.
Junior Karen Chung, USC’s leadoff, was USC’s lone winner, defeating Duke’s Leona Maguire, 4&2. Starting on the 10th tee, she took a three-hole lead after 14 and never led by less en route to the win.
Junior Tiffany Chan led early in her match against NCAA medalist Virginia Elena Carta, up two after six holes. But Carta squared it on 18, took the lead on 2 and didn’t drop another hole en route to the 3&2 win.
Junior Gabriella Then led briefly by a hole after 14, but Duke’s Celine Boutier tied it on 15 and the match remained all square through 1. Boutier, who halved 18 from 50 feet, took her first lead on 2. Then got it back to 1 on 4 and looked like she may tie the match after Boutier hit a tree 40 feet from her tee shot on 5. But the Blue Devil holed out from 120 yards for birdie to win the hole and ultimately captured the match 2&1.
Senior Kyung Kim, a three-time All-American, saw her great Trojan career come to an end with a 2&1 loss to Duke’s Sandy Choi. Kim led briefly after two holes, but Choi held the lead for most of the match. Down two holes late, Kim got it back to a one-hole deficit on 7, but missed her birdie chance on 8 and Choi converted hers for the win.
Freshman Robynn Ree fell in her match to Gurbani Singh, 2&1. Ree attempted to come back from a 4-hole deficit and a had a birdie chance on 8 to put some pressure on Singh, but missed and watched as Singh sunk her 12-footer for the match.
“It’s been a great career here,” Kim, USC’s lone senior, said. “We started with a team title in 2013 and have come so close the last three years to winning another. Today was tough but we ran into a Duke team that played extremely well today.”
The Trojans, who fell in the semifinals last year to eventual champion Stanford, entered the day 8-1 this season in match play, their only loss coming via tiebreaker to UCLA in the Liz Murphey Invitational.