Stevens: Lobos Surge In NCAA Golf With 18-Stroke Improvement

May 29, 2013

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - The hole is smaller, the two senior leaders are back, but the Lobos still have some digging to do.

But the good news is that the charge is on.

The University of New Mexico Lobos improved their second-round team card by 18 shots going from a 292 on Tuesday to a 274 on Wednesday. UNM charged out of a 27th-place tie to likely settle more in the middle of the pack once the second round is completed later today.

The top eight teams in the NCAA Men's Golf Championships advance to the three-day match-play format that will produce the 2013 NCAA champion. The early leaders in the clubhouse are Georgia Tech at 274-274-548 and No. 1 ranked California at 277-272--549. UNM sits at 566.

Texas at 550 and Alabama at 551 should be in the top eight at the end of 54 holes. Arizona State had the first-round lead with an 18-hole team card of 270 which put UNM 22 strokes off the first-day pace.

The Lobos' two senior leaders - James Erkenbeck and John Catlin - were dynamic in the UNM surge as they each improved by seven shots on their second day on the Capital City Club's Crabapple Course located near Atlanta.

Erkenbeck, an NCAA Regional champ, turned a sour 75 into a 68 and Catlin went from a 74 to a 67. The Lobos' Victor Perez also cut three shots off his first-round 72 by scoring a 69 on Wednesday and Gavin Green went from a 73 to a 70.

That's a total improvement of 20 shots by those four golfers, but since the four best cards form a team's total, UNM did not count Erkenbeck's 75 on Monday and went with Benjamin Bauch's 73. Bauch was the only Lobo not to improve on the second 18 holes as he carded a 74 on Wednesday.

Lobo Coach Glen Millican said his team's goal on Wednesday was to improve their first-round card of 292 and be in the hunt on Thursday for a top-eight finish. Mission accomplished, but there is still some climbing to do over teams that are playing well.

Erkenbeck played solid golf on Wednesday with three birdies and a single bogey to package around 14 pars. The UNM senior had four bogeys and a double bogey on Tuesday on the par 70 course.

Catlin had four birdies against a single bogey in carding his 67. Catlin had six bogeys in carding his first-day 74. Perez was consistent on Wednesday with two birdies and a single bogey. Green played even-par golf with three birdies neutralizing three bogeys.