Stevens: Lobos & 10 Other Golf Teams Eye Upset of No. 1 Texas

March 15, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Men's Golf - At Morris Williams Intercollegiate
Where: University of Texas Golf Club -- Austin, Texas
When: Friday (36 holes) & Saturday (18 holes)
Who: New Mexico (20), Texas (1), College of Charleston, North Texas (44), St. John's, TCU (36), Texas A&M (14), UT Arlington, Utah, Sam Houston State, Texas Tech (43), Wake Forest (47)
GoLobos.com: Recap, Final scores

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

This really doesn't sound fair. Has a deck ever been so stacked against the field? Just consider just a few factors the New Mexico Lobos and 10 other golf teams have to face in their 54-hole quest to beat down the Texas Longhorns Friday and Saturday at the Morris Williams:

  • Texas is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
  • Texas has the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked individuals in the nation.
  • Texas has won four tournaments already in the 2011-12 season.
  • Texas is playing on its home turf and are the defending champions.

    In a tournament loaded with talented golf teams, there is really no question which team will be targeted and likely chased at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate: the home team.

    If the Longhorns play up to their ability -- or their ranking -- the New Mexico Lobos and the rest of the field might be playing for second place.

    "It's an exciting challenge for our golfers," said Lobo Coach Glen Millican. "Texas is outstanding, but this is an outstanding field. This will be a huge test for us.

    "Texas has really set themselves apart. The course will be similar to what we'll see in the conference tournament and the NCAAs, if we get that far, so it'll be a good experience for us."

    The Lobos are coming off a solid showing in the General Hackler Championship played on the DeBordieu Country Club in Georgetown, S.C. UNM, paced by Victor Perez's fifth-place finish, finished fourth.

    "We keep getting in position to give ourselves a chance to win, which is a sign of a team that is playing good golf," said Millican.

    If Texas plays up to its ranking and takes advantage of that home-course knowledge, the Lobos probably will be more than happy, if they can put themselves in a position to win this tourney. Texas is loaded. Check out the Longhorns' starting five:

  • Jordan Spieth: Ranked No. 1 in college golf and has one win and two runner-up finishes this season.
  • Dylan Frittelli: Ranked No. 2 in college golf; tops Texas with 70.58 scoring average; seven Top Ten finishes in eight starts, including three runner-up finishes.
  • Tony Hakula: Six Top-25 finishes in six starts.
  • Julio Vegas: Has four Top-15 finishes in six starts and has Texas' No. 3 scoring average of 72.11.
  • Kramer Hickok: Has team's third-best scoring average of 72.11.
    Maybe the big question isn't whether Texas will win the team title, but which Longhorn will win the medalist race?

    But golf has its upsets, too. If you are looking for a ray of hope for a Texas upset, here it is: The Longhorns have won only one tournament in 2012 and are coming off two sixth-place finishes. Yes, the Longhorns sometimes miss a fairway or miss a putt.

    The Lobos' five-man team consists of Perez, John Catlin, James Erkenbeck, Gavin Green and Sean Romero. UNM's Benjamin Bauch will compete as an individual.

    The tourney is held annually in memory of former University of Texas golf star Morris Williams, Jr., who died in a plane crash while serving in the Air Force in 1953. An Austin native, Williams became the city's youngest junior champion at age 13 and dominated the local golf scene for the next several years.

    He starred on the Longhorns' teams from 1947-50 and led Texas to Southwest Conference championships in 1947, 1948 and 1950. In his final year (1950), Williams was runner-up in the NCAA Championship as UT finished second in the team competition.

    Former medalists at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate include such names as Fred Couples, Ben Crenshaw, Brad Elder, Bob Estes, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson and Payne Stewart.

    The Lobos finished ninth in this tournament in 2011 and still hold down a No. 1 spot in the Morris Williams' record book with the low 18-hole round of 281 (-3) on the Texas Golf Club, set in 2010. The Lobos faded that year and Georgia won the tourney with a plus-26 Card. The Lobos have never won this tournament.

    The Morris Williams' overall bully is - who else? - Texas with 13 titles.