On day three, the Trojans returned to their inconsistent form, finishing the tournament in fifth place at three over 867. Junior Alyaa Abdulghany got out to an exceptional start in the first two days of the tournament but struggled on day three, dropping from fifth to outside the top 10 in the final round. Abdulghany’s first two days, however, kept USC in the tournament while others took time to find their groove, as she went a combined four under par over the tournament’s first two rounds. However, things didn’t go exactly according to plan for the Trojans in their opening competition. USC got off to a rough start against a 12-team field which Golfweek called “the best field in women’s Div. 1 golf,” ending the first of the three-day tournament tied for fifth place out of 12 on the team leaderboard. “I definitely know a lot of people who were not happy with how they played, but, at the end of day two we were second,” Leong said. “I know we can do way better and with some of our top players being a little off, I think it was OK. It was still a good team effort.” Heading into the tournament as Golfweek’s top ranked team, the Trojans entered the competition with high expectations, returning all but one member of last year’s squad that won a total of seven tournaments over the course of the season. Leong played exceptionally well over the final two days of the tournament, posting an impressive individual mark of three under for the whole tournament. She had an astounding second round in which she shot six under par, making her the top-placing Trojan at sixth overall. Following the difficult start, day two was crucial for the players to get back on their feet and fight through some unexpected adversity — and they did. The top-ranked Trojans posted a second round mark of nine-under 279 and surged up the leaderboard to second place, distancing themselves from third-place Arkansas and moving within six shots of leader Wake Forest. Leong was accompanied in the top ten by junior Jennifer Chang, who tied for eighth at two under par. The Trojans look to overcome the wind and the rest of the field at the Windy City Collegiate Invitational in Chicago, Ill., from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. Leong explained that mental clarity and composure were keys to her success. Any roster with five All-Americans on it is going to be expected to perform well in — if not win — every tournament it enters, and this USC team is no exception. Although the unit did not leave its season-opener with any hardware, the season is still promising for USC. The USC women’s golf team kicked off its 2019 campaign Monday at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate held at the Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minn. “I just know that I just made a lot of dumb mistakes in the first round,” she said. “I thought I could score lower, so for the next round I just tried not to let the stupid mistakes get to my head.” “It’s hard to, I guess, control the shot when it’s that windy,” Leong said. “The ball might go somewhere completely [where] you don’t want it to go. The wind can take it the other way.” Senior Aiko Leong said the group was caught off guard by the consistent 10-15 mile per hour winds throughout the tournament, noting that it doesn’t typically practice in those conditions. It added an extra challenge that Leong said affected the team’s performance. Although head coach Justin Silverstein’s unit was unable to put together a complete effort over the course of the competition, he and his staff have plenty of reason for optimism. Outstanding sporadic individual displays from Abdulghany, Leong and Chang should have those within the team and those following it eager to see what’s next. Senior Aiko Leong scored a career best six-under 66 Tuesday and credited her strong performance throughout the tournament to her excellent putting. (Photo courtesy of Ben Ludeman) Despite some of the group’s typical top performers going through some early season struggles, Leong praised the team for hanging in and competing.