USC will rely on the trio this upcoming season to maintain its level of play. If the Trojans look to continue their season beyond the Pac-12 Tournament and restore their preseason No. 11 rank, under-par play toward podiums in their final five tournaments will be necessary. The Trojans got off to a rough start on day one, with five players shooting over par and the team finishing seventh in a field of 12. Later in the day, USC freshman Yuxin Lin and junior Leon D’Souza scored key birdies in the tournament’s second round that propelled USC to seven shots behind leader Pepperdine. It was D’Souza’s 5-under 67 scorecard that solidified the second place standing. In the third and final round of the invitational, he birdied seven holes for a 5-under performance that would further subtract from his leading 6-under from the two prior rounds. By the end of the day, Lin dropped his score by four, going from 2-over par to 2-under par. This allowed the team to drop to 289 on the scoreboard in the second round and pass No. 18 UCLA, No. 27 Stanford and No. 29 Louisiana State. “We’re definitely trending in the right direction,” D’Souza said. “Everyone had a good run this week, if not today. We’re all playing good right now and we’re going to Hawaii on Monday, so hopefully we can continue moving on from here.” Junior Issei Tanabe tapped in three birdies on holes 15, 16 and 17 and bogied 18 to leave him at 1-under. Lin had a key eagle on 12 that helped him complete a 3-under 69 performance. “We both made a bunch of birdies throughout the day, and [hole] 17 was a tough hole and I hit a good shot but it just went a little too far,” D’Souza said. “I just gave myself a really tough up-and-down so it was just a small mistake.” D’Souza followed the same pattern by bogeying to 4-under. He then chipped in two birdies, but a fatal mistake on hole 17 led to an additional bogey D’Souza could not recover from. The tournament marked the beginning of the Trojans’ spring slate, and their performance has drastically improved after finishing in last place at the Cypress Point Classic last fall. The No. 43 USC men’s golf team tied its own season-high by finishing in third place Tuesday at the Southwestern Invitational at the North Ranch Country Club. No. 6 Pepperdine shot 14-under while the Trojans tied with No. 10 Arizona State, finishing with a 3-over 867 team total. The players’ stamina was the deciding factor during the back-and-forth battle for second place during the tournament’s final 18 holes of play. Both the Sun Devils and the Trojans had two players finish under par at the turn of the course, but the Trojans reached 9-under in the final stretch to tie with ASU. Senior Kyle Suppa had five straight birdies, a season record, between holes 12 and 16 that dropped his card to 3-under. Suppa eventually returned to par again following a bogey and a double bogey. Even though the USC junior finished one short of the individual podium, the Southwestern Invitational marks D’Souza’s highest tournament placement as a Trojan. D’Souza joins Tanabe and Lin as standout players to watch for the remainder of the Trojans’ season. Previously, Tanabe carded four 68-shot rounds in the fall while Lin earned a berth into both the U.S. Open and the Masters after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last November. Freshman Yuxin Lin finished round one of the tournament two under par while leading USC to a top-three finish. (Photo courtesy of USC Athletics) D’Souza was tied for first on the leaderboard with Pepperdine’s redshirt senior Sahith Theegala for the entirety of the tournament. The back eight of the final round is where the invitational’s winner is often decided. Theegala bogeyed 11 but quickly made up for it with two birdies on 12 and 16 to finish with a 6-under 66 round. USC will be back on the course next Thursday to compete in the Amer Ari Invitational in Waikoloa, Hawaii. The Trojans will face off against No. 3 Georgia Tech, No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 21 Auburn and No. 25 Texas, among a host of other opponents.