Erkenbeck, Catlin Guide Lobos to 4th-Place Tie in Vegas

March 8, 2013

Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters Team Leaderboard

Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters Individual Leaderboard

Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters Team and Individual Leaderboard

By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communication 

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – University of New Mexico men’s golf coach Glen Millican is fond of the saying, “You can’t win a golf tournament on the first day, but you can lose one.”

His seniors weren’t about to let that happen during the opening round of the star-studded Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters on Friday in atypically rainy and cold Las Vegas.

James Erkenbeck shot a bogey-free 69 for a 3-under par, John Catlin turned in a 1-under 71 and the fifth-ranked Lobos finished tied for fourth place among the 15 teams after the first round at the Southern Highlands Golf Club.

UNM shot a 4-over-par 292 and tied with sixth-ranked UCLA, seven shots behind leader and top-ranked California (3-under 285). All 15 teams in the event are ranked in Golfweek.com’s top 50. Play was halted for almost an hour by rain, and wind gusts reached over 30 miles per hour with a wind chill factor of 38 degrees.

“How those two seniors played was big-time for the way we finished the round,” Millican said. “I’m really proud of the way both those guys played today.”

No. 13 Stanford, buoyed by individual leader Patrick Rodgers’ 6-under 66, is second  at 2-under 286, and third-ranked Alabama, behind Cory Whitsett’s 4-under 68, is third at 1-over 289.

The individual leaderboard also is a who’s who among ranked players. Rodgers is the No. 16-ranked collegian by Golfweek.com. Whitsett is No. 39. Erkenbeck, ranked 20th, is tied with California’s Brandon Hagy (No. 45) for third.

“James is a great player, but it was still a really good round – not allowing a bogey under those conditions.”

It was Catlin who set the tone for UNM early, shooting 4-under during the front nine and keeping the Lobos in the top half of the leaderboard. His round faded a bit with three bogeys in the last four holes, and he was tied for seventh among the 81 players.

“Those last few holes were really tough to play,” Millican said. “The way the weather was, you were bound to give up a few shots.”

Sophomore Gavin Green helped Erkenbeck lead the Lobos down the stretch. Green recovered nicely from a 6-over front nine (he started on the 10th hole), shooting 2 under par from holes 1-9 and finished with a 4-over 76 and a tie for 51st place.

“Gavin hit two bad shots during the round,” Millican said. “Otherwise, he’s have finished at 1-under for the round.

Senior Benjamin Bauch had three birdies and six bogeys on the way to a 3-over 75 and a tie for 40th. Only sophomore Victor Perez really struggled, finishing with an 8-over 80. He’s in 75th place.

“Ben, Gavin and Victor hadn’t played this course before,” Millican said. “They kept their composure and got their feet wet. Victor struggled a little bit, but he’s a player that can come back and shoot the best round tomorrow. He’ll be fine.”

Tee times for Saturday’s second round are at 9 a.m. Mountain Time (8 a.m. Pacific).

“We definitely kept ourselves in a good spot,” Millican said. “I like the position we’re at.”