The USC women can no longer boast of being undefeated in 2013-14 after losing to UCLA by six strokes Tuesday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate. But that doesn't make the Trojans any less formidable than they were three days earlier. The defending NCAA champions still have the deepest lineup in women's college golf, and while their win streak ends at eight straight events dating back to last spring, they'll remain the favorite in every tournament they play between now and nationals in May.
While the most recent tournament finished after voting closed for the first spring edition of the Golf World/WGCA Division I college coaches' poll, USC would not doubt have still held the top spot in the ranking. Arguably the only difference might have been a few more first-place votes for UCLA, winners now of three team titles in five starts.
Of course I say this in jest. Talking to some coaches of teams chasing the No. 1s in each of the divisions, they appreciate the level dominance their opponents have shown in the fall. Yet at the same time the chasers believe they have played well enough that on any given week they could be victorious over all comers.
"We have a tremendous amount of respect for USC and what they've accomplished," said UCLA women's coach Carrie Forysth. "But I think we are confident that our team is capable of winning every tournament we enter. That hasn't changed this fall."
With that, here are the final fall polls. Read into them what you will as schools gets some rest before the spring season calls.
I promise there is some surprise in the latest Golf World/WGCA women's Division I coaches' poll. It's just not with team that's ranked No. 1.
USC returns to the top spot, winners of its first two fall events and in the middle of a school-record five-tournament win streak dating back to last spring. However, the Trojans weren't the only school to receive first-place votes.
Indeed, where the interesting news comes from this time is that five other programs in addition to the Women of Troy had at least one coach pick them as the best team in the land.
See for yourself ...
The name of the school atop the latest Golf World/WGCA women's Division I coaches' poll should come as no surprise, USC claiming all 21 first-place votes after starting the 2013-14 season with an impressive comeback victory at the Dale McNamara Fall Preview.
However, take a look at the rest of the top 25 and you'll see a few new names and a few names occupying a few spots for the first time in school history.
Defending NCAA champion USC starts its title defense as the No. 1 ranked team in the Golf World/WGCA 2013-14 preseason women's Division I coaches' poll. The Trojans claimed the school's third women's golf championship when they won by a dominating 21-strokes at the University of Georgia GC last May.
All five starters return to Los Angeles, including last year's national player of the year Annie Park. Additionally, USC brings in the U.S. Girls' Junior champion Gabriella Then and five-time AJGA All-American Karen Chung as to challenge for starting spots as freshmen. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the Trojans claimed 26 of the 29 available first-place votes.
No. 2 in the poll is Alabama, the 2012 NCAA champs who bring back senior Stephanie Meadow, Golf World's No. 1 player to watch for the season, and sophomore Emma Talley, the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion.
Duke claimed the No. 3 spot, having finished runner-up to USC at nationals last May. Rounding out the top five are UCLA and Arizona State, both of whom picked up first-place votes (the Bruins getting 1, the Sun Devils getting 2).
Defending NCAA champion Alabama held on to the No. 2 spot in the poll, earning the remaining two first-place votes. The Crimson Tide are the No. 1 seed in the East Regional and have won five titles this season as well, including the SEC crown.
Duke, the ACC champion and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Central Regional, remained ranked third with Oklahoma and UCLA rounding out the top five.
The votes were already in, and USC had comfortable maintained its spot atop the latest Golf World/WGCA Division I coaches' poll—unbeknownst however to the women of Troy.
Yet as if there was going to be any confusion, the Trojans' 21-stroke victory over Arizona Tuesday at the San Diego State Farms Invitational only reaffirmed the voters' belief. It was USC's third win in a row and the fourth in the last five starts.
Junior Sophia Popov claimed medalist honors, winning her fifth career tournament to tie the school's all-time career victory mark with Irene Cho and Mikaela Parmlid. Four other USC golfers also posted top-10 individual finishes: Annie Park (third), Doris Chen (T-4), Kyung Kim (T-4) and Rachel Morris (T-10).
This is the first year that USC has three or more consecutive wins since the team closed out the 2008 season with four straight titles, including the NCAA championship. No doubt the folks in Los Angeles are hoping for a similar result come next month.
Here's a look at the overall top 25:
At first blush, the fact the USC women remain atop the latest Golf World/WGCA women's Division I coaches' poll doesn't seem all that noteworthy. Sure, the Trojans' recent come-from-behind victory over UCLA at the Bruin Wave Invitational make them the logical pick among voters, their mid-season addition of Annie Park giving an already talented roster of Sophia Popov, Doris Chen, Kyung Kim and Rachel Morris a reliable No. 5 (or better, depending on how everybody is playing).
However, what's notable about USC's No. 1 ranking is that it's the ninth time since Golf World resumed the poll in 2001-02 that the Trojans have claimed the top spot, pulling them out of a tie with Auburn as the fourth most decorate program in the poll's history. Only three schools have been ranked No. 1 more often than USC—Duke, which has claimed the honor 41 times (in 99 editions of the poll); UCLA, top-ranked on 20 occasions; and Arizona State, numero uno 12 times.
Do the the voters in the Golf World/WGCA women's Division I coaches poll have a crystal ball?
While ballots had to be turned in last Friday for the first spring poll of the 2012-13 season, five days before the end of the rain-shortened Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate would conclude, the 80 percent of the coaches seemed to know that USC was going to be victorious at English Turn G&CC, winning a playoff over crosstown rival UCLA.
Twenty of the 25 voters selected the Trojans No. 1, allowing the Pac-12 power to remain atop the Golf World poll even before recording arguably their most impressive victory of the season.