Green. Lobos Golden at Tucker Intercollegiate

Sept. 29, 2012

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – With the team competition well in hand, the 18th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team on Saturday turned its attention to sophomore Gavin Green’s 30-foot birdie putt at the 58th annual William H. Tucker Intercollegiate.

 Green was tied with Minnesota’s Erik Van Rooyen at 6-under par through 53 holes, and his approach shot on hole No. 18 at the UNM Championship Golf Course from 93 yards came up short. Green, whose previous best finish in a collegiate tournament was a tie for second place at last week’s PING Golfweek Preview in Alpharetta, Ga., took some deep breaths and took a swing.

The putt almost died, but had one more revolution that pushed the ball into the cup, and Green’s 7-under won the individual championship to go along with the Lobos’ 29-stroke victory over runner-up Colorado.

“I knew it was a good put, but I thought it might be short,” Green said. “I was very lucky it went in.”

 The victory was the Lobos’ first team and individual triumph since 2006, when medalist Charlie Beljan led UNM to the team title.

“To win, and win convincingly, hardly ever happens,” 12th-year UNM coach Glen Millican said. “For us to do that is kind of a special feeling.”

The Lobos shot a 7-under 281 Saturday and finished at 15 under par for the tournament (283-285-281=849). The Buffaloes (289-294-295=878) came in at 14 over par, and San Francisco (297-284-305=886) was third among the 14 teams in the field at 22 over par.

“I’m exceeding proud,” said senior John Catlin, who’s 5-under 67 Saturday was the day’s low round. “This being my senior year, winning this event was something I wanted to get done. To win by such a huge margin was a nice pressure break.”

Catlin (76-76-67=212) finished third at 4-under and had thoughts during the round that he could catch his teammate.

“But Gavin just played great,” Catlin said. “His win was well-deserved.”

Green said he knew that he was tied going into the last hole but had the mind-set of getting a birdie to win it.

“I didn’t put myself in very good position,” he said, “but when I was lining up the putt, honestly, all I was thinking about was making it. It ended being a perfect putt.”

Senior James Erkenbeck (71-73-71=215) finished sixth at 1 under par. Sophomore Victor Perez (70-77-74=221) and senior Benjamin Bauch (71-74-76=221) tied for 16th at 5 over par.

The victory was UNM’s first since October of last year when the same five players hoisted the trophy at the Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio, Texas. UNM won the Tucker for the fourth time under Millican and won its 18th team trophy under the veteran coach. Green was the 22nd individual tournament winner for Millican.

“That was a special finish – what a putt!” Millican said, referring to Green. “All the drama we didn’t have as a team, Gavin provided for at least the last 30 minutes. This is our 10th win in 58 Tuckers. It was good to finally win again. It’s very satisfying for both the coaching staff and the players.”

Lobo sophomore Sean Romero, competing as an individual, shot a 3-over 219 (71-77-71) to tie for 10th place. Senior Ryan Barry (72-75-78=225) tied for 33rd at 9 over, freshman Joseph Abella (80-75-78=233) came in a 64th-place tie at 17 over. Junior transfer Camren Bergman (72-77-89=238) finished tied for 75th in the 84-player field at 22 over par.