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USC Women's Golf Falls Just Short Of NCAA Title

Doris Chen gives SC their 2nd straight individual title, but the team finishes in second place for the third time since 2010.

Doris Chen, seen here during the 2013 U.S. Women's Open, earned USC Golf their second-straight individual NCAA championship
Doris Chen, seen here during the 2013 U.S. Women's Open, earned USC Golf their second-straight individual NCAA championship
USA TODAY Sports

In a season where they set a school record by winning nine meets, USC were considered favorites to defend their NCAA women's golf title and earn the school their second national championship in a week. Unfortunately, despite a hard charge in the final round, the Women of Troy found themselves falling just short, finishing in second just two strokes behind the Duke Blue Devils. It is the third time in the last five seasons that USC has ended the year as runner-up, after they lost by one stroke to Purdue in 2010 and Alabama in 2012.

But SC didn't leave empty handed. Junior Doris Chen became the second-straight Trojan to win the individual NCAA championship, joining her teammate, Annie Park. She finished with a 6-under 274, two stroke ahead of Duke's Celine Boutier. It was a deeply emotional victory for Chen as her mother, a recent survivor of stage 3 lung cancer, was in attendance.

USC started the final day in second, six strokes behind Duke. After struggling with the front nine for much of the tournament, they finally made a breakthrough, sinking nine birdies including four by Chen. With nine holes left, USC had the lead for the first time by two strokes, and they finished with a final round team score of -10. But Duke claimed the title in the final holes, with none of their players going over par on the back nine. Duke went -6 in the final round, enough to hold a two stroke lead and break the record for lowest four-day score in NCAA championship history. Despite a double bogey on the 11th, Chen preserved her strong front nine performance by shooting pars on the last seven holes. Boutier came within one stroke of Chen but bogeyed the last hole, securing the individual title for Chen.

USC has missed three national titles by a four strokes over the last five years, but that trend may be about to change. Thanks in part to their landslide championship win last year, the NCAA women's golf championship is switching over to the match play format that is being used in the men's championship. The top eight teams after 54 holes will go head-to-head in a tournament, while the last 18 holes will be played by the top 36 individual players to determine the individual champion.

FINAL TEAM LEADERBOARD

1 Duke +10
2 USC +12
3 UCLA +25
4 Oklahoma +27
5 Arizona State +30