Lobo Catch Fire Late To Grab Tucker Lead

Sept. 28, 2012

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - If finishing strong separates the good teams from the great teams, then the 18th-ranked University of New Mexico men's golf team took a step toward greatness Friday afternoon.

The Lobos, trailing by two strokes midway through the second round of the 58th annual William H. Tucker Intercollegiate at the UNM Championship Course, played their last nine holes at 8-under par and took a 13-stroke leader after the first 36 holes.

UNM shot an 8-under 568 (283-285) Friday to take a 13-stroke lead over second-place San Francisco (297-284=581, 5-over). Colorado, the team that had that lead over the Lobos midway through round 2, settled for a 7-over 583 (289-294) and is 15 strokes back in the 14-team field.

"It seems like whatever sport you play - football, baseball, NASCAR - a lot of people can do it well for the majority of the game or race or match or tournament," 12th-year Lobo coach Glen Millican said. "Especially in a sport like college golf, the teams that can finish are the ones that are special, that separate themselves from the rest.

"It was big-time for our team to finish off the day like that."

Sophomore Gavin Green coming off a career-best tie for second place at last week's PING Golfweek Preview in Alpharetta, Ga., continued his hot play, shooting a 4-under 140 (71-69) to finish Friday in fourth place, two strokes off individual leader Cory McElyea of San Francisco (69-69=138, 6 under).

Green shot 3-under during his final nine holes.

"I feel like I played pretty good, but I didn't play well," Green said. "I hit good shots and my short game was working well, but I couldn't get any putts to drop."

Green was just part of UNM's strong finish. Senior John Catlin followed an opening-round, 4-over 76 with a second-round 69, shooting a pair of birdies over the final nine holes to get back to a respectable 1-over 145 and a tie for 11th place.

Fellow senior James Erkenbeck, who shot a 1-under 71 Friday morning, was sitting at 5-over for the round 2 through 12 holes. He birdied four of the final six holes to finish with a second-round 73 for an even-par 144 and a tie for ninth place.

"I can't say enough about the seniors," Millican said. "For Catlin to shoot a 69 after a 76 is a big turnaround. And James' ability to get his round back like that, I really can't describe how impressive that was."

Senior Benjamin Bauch (71-74=145) is tied with Catlin for 11th, and sophomore Victor Perez (70-77=147) is tied for 20th at 3 over par.

Senior Ryan Barry (72-75=147), playing as an individual, also is tied for 20th. Sophomore Sean Romero (71-77=148) is tied for 27th, junior Camren Bergman (72-77=149) is tied for 32rd and true freshman Joseph Abella (80-75=155) is tied for 64th in the 84-player field.

The Lobos, who last won their own event in 2006, know their approach Saturday has to be the same as it was the first two rounds Friday.

"It feels good to have the lead, obviously," Green said. "All of us have to play our own game and stay patient."

Millican who says that his team tries to approach each tournament the same, acknowledges the home tournament provides some extra motivation for the team.

"Obviously, the guys want to play well in this tournament," Millican said. "They feel that there is a little more meaning to this one. Hopefully, they'll play as well tomorrow, and it could be a great start to the weekend for Lobo athletics."

The teams are back on the course at 7:45 a.m. Saturday for the final 18 holes.