Lobo Golf Men Set for NIT

March 15, 2013

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TUCSON, Ariz. – The third-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team has to like its chances this week.

The Lobos remain the only team to defeat top-ranked California in a tournament this season. The Bears, who have won five events against UNM, won’t be present at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club for the Don Puckette National Invitational Tournament, which takes place Saturday and Sunday.

UNM is 1-for-2 in events it has played without Cal this season. It won its own William H. Tucker Intercollegiate in September and finished tied for second in the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate at the end of October to finish its fall schedule.

“There are a lot of great teams in this field,” coach Glen Millican said, “and any one of them is capable of playing great. So we can’t worry about that. All we can do is focus on what we can control and try to play our game.”

The Lobos have been doing that pretty well, especially of late. UNM has placed first or second in each of its last six tournaments, and the competition has been fierce.

Oklahoma State, which beat UNM at the Royal Oaks in October, comes in as the No. 13 team, as rated in the latest Golfweek.com/Sagarin poll. TCU, the No. 8 team in the nation, also will compete in the NIT. The Horned Frogs lost to the Lobos at the Arizona Intercollegiate when one of their players signed an incorrect scorecard.

No. 19 Arkansas, No. 27 Texas A&M and No. 37 UNLV are the other teams in the 15-team field ranked in Golfweek.com’s Top 15, and host Arizona will be tough on its home course.

Four other Mountain West teams are in the field with UNM and UNLV: Hawai’i, Nevada, San Diego State and Wyoming. New Mexico State is in the field as well.

“Whether it’s been at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters or the NIT, our guys have been exposed to the big time,” Millican said.

And responded. All five Lobos competing in this weekend’s event are ranked in Golfweek.com’s top 100 individual poll. Senior James Erkenbeck, who finished in a four-way tie for first at last weekend’s Collegiate Masters, is up to No. 10 in the rankings.

Sophomore Gavin Green is ranked 23rd, and fellow sophomore Victor Perez is No. 51. Senior Benjamin Bauch is No. 86, and senior John Catlin is No. 100. Catlin was in the top 50 for most of the 2011-12 season.

Sophomore Sean Romero will compete as an individual.

The tournament starts at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Saturday with 36 holes. The final 18 holes will take place Sunday.