No. 3 Lobo Golf Men Grab First-Round Lead in Tempe

ASU Thunderbird Invitational Team Leaderboard

ASU Thunderbird Invitational Player Leaderboard

ASU Thunderbird Invitational Team and Player Leaderboard

TEMPE, Ariz. - The No. 1 California men's golf team is usually the one flexing its muscle, having won eight tournaments of the nine it has played during the 2012-13 season.

But if there's one team that might give the mighty Bears pause about their dominance, that team is the third-ranked University of New Mexico.

During the first round of the ASU Thunderbird Invitational on Friday, the Lobos were the ones putting on a display of strength, shooting an 8-under 276 to take a five-stroke lead over San Diego State during the 18-team event at the ASU Karsten Course. UNLV, No. 33 in the current rankings, is third with a 1-under 282.

Top-ranked California is tied for fourth with Oregon State at an even-par 284. The 276 is one stroke off UNM's low this season. No. 44 and event host Arizona State is 15th with a 12-over 296.

The Lobos are coming off a victory at the Don Puckette National Invitational Tournament in Tucson in March and are seeking back-to-back tournament wins for the first time since 2005. They are also 36 holes away from season victory No. 4, which would be the most since the 2004-05 team won five events.

New Mexico also looms as the only team to win a tournament this season in which Cal was entered, at the Arizona Intercollegiate in January.

Sophomore Victor Perez paced UNM with a 5-under 66 in the first round Saturday to grab a share of second place individually, two strokes behind leader Nick Chianello of Oregon State. Perez, who started on the 10th hole Friday, shot 4-under on the front nine of a bogey-free first 18 holes.

Senior Benjamin Bauch matched Perez's 33 through his first nine holes, but a double-bogey on No. 3 (Bauch's 11th hole of the day) relegated him to a 2-under 69 and a share of seventh.

Senior John Catlin also started hot, going three-under through the first nine holes before settling for a 1-under 70 and a tie for 12th place. Fellow senior James Erkenbeck shot an even-par 71 for a 17th-place tie, and sophomore Gavin Green shot a 1-over 72 to tie for 30th.

Second-round action resumes Saturday with an 8:30 a.m. MT start.