Green Hanging Out With Golf Pros in Kuala Lumpur

March 20, 2013

By GregArchuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications 

Hobnobbing with professional golfers is nothing new to Gavin Green.

The University of New Mexico sophomore golfer, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to play in the European Tour's Maybank Malaysian Open from Thursday-Sunday, notes the honor aspect of earning an invitation to the event.

Former No. 1 and current No. 3 golfer Luke Donald, three-time Majors champion Padraig Harrington and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel are among those entered in the competition.

But this being his third appearance in his home country's open tournament, Green says he doesn't envision being star-struck.

"I've competed against guys like Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els before," said Green, a native of Kuala Lumpur, before he left for the trip. "Getting to know those guys a little was a great experience. And I'm in tournament mode now, so I think that's a good thing."

Green and the No. 3 Lobos (according to the latest Golfweek.com/Sagarin poll) have competed in events in each of the last two weekends - at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters and the Don Puckette NIT.

Green finished sixth at the Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas, Nev., with an even-par 216. He tied for 35th at the NIT in Tucson, turning in a 3-over 219.

"I hit the ball pretty well," Green said of the NIT. "I just struggled around the greens a little bit."

UNM coach Glen Millican has accompanied Green on the trip.

"I'm just out there to support him and share the experience," Millican said.

Millican understands that Green's appearance in Malaysia is a definite plus for the Lobo program.

"This is a big-team European Tour event," Millican said. "It's Malaysia's national open. It's a very important tournament for Gavin, for me and for Lobo golf.

"Whether it's been James Erkenbeck competing at the U.S. Publinx, Victor Perez competing at the British Amateur or (former Lobo) Spencer Levin playing in the U.S. Open, it gives our program more recognition and attention on a national and international scale."

The biggest obstacle for Green may be getting used to the time away from college. He will have spent 2½ weeks on the road. The Lobos left for Las Vegas on March 6, and they went straight to Tucson to spend the rest of their spring break. Green and Millican then earned more frequent flyer miles Sunday night.

"Just trying to get over the jet lag will be the main thing," Green said. "But I definitely have a lot more confidence in my game because I've played well in college."

Green currently is ranked No. 32 in the Golfweek.com/Sagarin collegiate individual poll. He has five top-10 finishes in nine events for the Lobos this season, including sinking a 30-foot putt on the final hole to win at UNM's own William H. Tucker Intercollegiate by a stroke in September.

Green's play has allowed him to set concrete goals for Malaysia.

"Making the cut and making it to the weekend is definitely part of it," he said. "If I can do that, I want to finish in the top 20."

If Green is paired with one of the "names" in the tournament, he said he'll be sure to pick up whatever he can from studying how the professional plays or soliciting advice.

Ultimately, however, those names will just be added to the list of top competition he's faced. It's a list that should continue to grow as he continues his golfing career.

Who knows? Perhaps one day, a future amateur golfer will relish the chance to compete against Green.