Trojans March on Athens
Updated: Jun 30, 2018
The No. 1 USC women’s golf team will be competing against teams from all over the country this weekend at the 43rd annual Liz Murphey Invitational at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga. The tournament runs Friday through Sunday with tee times beginning at 8:30 a.m. each day.
This course is the site of the Trojans' 2013 NCAA title. USC returns to this tournament as defending champions having defeated No. 5 Arkansas in the 2014 match-play final. They have had a successful season thus far having captured three wins and six top-two finishes in eight tournaments this year. The Trojans also set a record with a 286.26 stroke average per round, the best in school history, breaking the one from last year by 2.5 strokes.
Josh Brewer, the head women’s golf coach at UGA, was the former assistant coach at Southern Cal from 2008-12. When asked about USC’s prestigious program and the strengths this team possesses, he responded, “I think the big thing they’ve done is they’ve just created a culture and a winning environment. The players who come in there are just expected to perform at a certain level. And maybe it is not the number one recruit they get, but the players just buy into what’s being built there.”
The Trojans, as well as other schools, will be facing a new challenge this year with a slightly altered course layout. “We’ve actually changed a couple of holes this year from how the golf course is laid out, and most players and schools have not seen it yet,” said Brewer. “I think that gives us a huge advantage. We’ve moved a couple of tee boxes that have made it harder to play, but again those teams get one day to figure it out. We’ve had six months to figure it out.”
Even UGA junior golfer, Sylvie Brick, acknowledges the home turf advantage. “Yeah it just makes a huge difference, you know, just being really comfortable on every shot, and there’s so many friendly faces,” said Brick. “There’s just a sense of comfort that is hard to reproduce other places, so you really got to take advantage of it.”
Not to mention, USC will be traveling all the way from the West Coast to compete in this tournament. “Your body –it’s hard,” said Brewer, with regards to the adjustment. “I mean UCLA tees off at 5:30 their time Friday morning with us. They’re getting up at three o’clock body time, and they’re a little groggy.”
Although it started last year, another obstacle to consider is the transformation to match play in lieu of the 2015 format change for the NCAA Women’s Championship. This format is somewhat foreign to collegiate players, but has actually drawn a competitive crowd to this premier tournament. “We kind of knew the NCAA championship format was changing, and that’s why we did last year’s event that way,” said Brewer. “And we’re the only event in the spring and maybe all of college golf on the women’s side that does it. That’s how we’re able to get six out of the top-eight schools.”
To see these schools compete, head over to the UGA Golf Course this weekend or check out birdiefire.com.