Lobo Golf Men Kick Into Fifth Gear at Regional
May 18, 2012
In Athens, Ga., the Lobos are 18 holes from ending a five-year drought.
The 16th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team battled through more gusty conditions Friday at the University of Georgia Golf Course. The Lobos shot a 6-over 290 in the second round for a 36-hole total of 7-over 575 that catapulted them from a ninth-place tie to the magical fifth place mark at the NCAA Regional.
The top five teams each of the six regional tournaments advance to the NCAA Championship in Pacific Palisades, Calif., beginning May 29.
UNM trails leader and second-ranked Alabama by 30 strokes; the Crimson Tide are at 23-under 545. East Carolina (276-281=557) is in second place at 11 under. The Lobos are two strokes ahead of North Carolina-Wilmington (282-295=577), three strokes better than Houston (282-296, Long Beach State (297-281) and Wake Forest (284-294) at 578 and four strokes up on two-time defending national champion Augusta State (283-296=579).
“The golf course played more difficult today because of hole location, and there was a little more wind,” UNM coach Glen Millican said. “So to be able to move up was really a good effort by the guys. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and put together another good round.”
New Mexico, which shot a 1-over 285 during Thursday’s first round, was only one of three teams whose team score Friday came within at five strokes of its first-round score. Long Beach State was the only team to improve upon its first-round score, registering 16 fewer shots Friday. East Carolina also was five strokes above its first-round score.
The Lobo scorers played the final three holes at 3-under to get them into the top five.
“We finished well today, for the most part, and that helped us separate a little bit from the teams behind us,” Millican said. “But we want to move up even more (on Saturday).”
Junior James Erkenbeck couldn’t maintain the momentum he had going in the first round, following his 4-under 67 Thursday with a 3-over 74 on Friday. He still leads the Lobos with a 1-under 141 after 36 holes but dropped from a fifth-place tie to a tie for 12th place among the 75 competitors. Alabama’s Bobby Wyatt is the individual leader at 8 under (66-67=133).
“James had an unfortunate break on his 10th holes, which was No. 1, and ended up with a double-bogey,” Millican said. “It took him out of his rhythm a little bit.”
Junior John Catlin carded the low round for UNM on Friday, shooting an even-par 71. He’s even for the tournament at 71-71=142, good for a tie for 15th. Freshman Victor Perez shot a 1-over 72, scoring four birdies and five bogeys, to finish at 4-over 146 (74-72) for a 44th-place tie . Freshman Gavin Green battled through a pair of double-bogeys to shoot 2-over 73 to tie for 51st place at 5-over 147 (74-73).
Fellow freshman Sean Romero struggled with an 8-over 79 and is tied for 63rd at 10-over 152 (73-79).
UNM is trying to finish in the top five for the 13th time in 14 tournaments during the 2011-12 season. The Lobos, however, have a much bigger prize for a top-five finish tomorrow – a spot in men’s golf version of the Big Dance.
“I don’t think the circumstances have affected our game,” Millican said of the NCAA qualifier. “We haven’t played our best round, yet, but we’ve set the stage for ourselves for tomorrow. There’s going to be some nerves, but nerves are always there when you’re competitive. I’m confident we’ll be able to handle it and play a good round and see what happens.”
UNM tees off at 5:50 a.m. Mountain Time on Saturday.