Dance Card Filling Up for No. 3 Lobo Golf Men

April 4, 2013

ASU Thunderbird Invitational Release Get Acrobat Reader

By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications

Time becomes an issue when you’re the third-ranked team in the country.

The University of New Mexico men’s golf team figures to have a busy couple of months ahead as it completes its 2012-13 season.

UNM will compete in the ASU-Thunderbird Invitational Friday-Sunday at the ASU-Karsten Course in Tempe, Ariz. The No. 3 Lobos will be one of four teams in the 18-team field ranked in the top 50 in both the Golfweek.com/Sagarin and Golfstat.com polls.

No. 1 California, which has won eight of the night events it has entered this season, headlines the field. UNM, No. 3 in both polls, has three tournament wins, including the Arizona Intercollegiate that gave the Bears their only loss of the season. No. 33/30 UNLV and No. 44/43 Arizona State also are in the field.

“It’s another tournament with another strong field,” Lobo coach Glen Millican said. “The only difference is our guys probably have more school work on their minds. We have three seniors here, and a couple of the guys have big assignments due in a couple of weeks.”

Juggling class work and golf isn’t foreign to the players, and Millican says he hasn’t altered the team’s routine. So the lineup of seniors Benjamin Bauch, John Catlin and James Erkenbeck, and sophomores Gavin Green and Victor Perez should be ready to compete for the team’s fourth title of the season.

UNM is coming off a one-stroke victory at the Don Puckette National Invitational Tournament in March, which extended its string of consecutive top-two finishes to seven tournaments this year.

Based on some of that recent success, the Golf Channel is planning to do a piece on the Lobo program in  the coming months and will be in Albuquerque in a couple of weeks for interviews and footage of the UNM Championship Course.

Erkenbeck and Perez are getting closer to adding an event to their summer schedules. Erkenbeck is the No. 3 player in the U.S. in the latest Palmer Cup Rankings, while Perez moved up to No. 8 in the Team Europe standings.

The top six from each team will receive automatic invitations to play in the 2013 Palmer Cup, pitting teams of 10 players each from the U.S. and Europe in a Ryder Cup-style collegiate event in Wilmington, N.C., from June 7-9.

“Just more examples of how well our guys are playing this year,” Millican said. “It is nice when our kids get that kind of recognition.”

After Tempe, the Lobos have one more regular-season event at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate in Austin, Texas before the Mountain West Conference Championships, NCAA Regionals and, hopefully, the NCAA Championships. Reaching the NCAA Championships is a big goal for the team, especially after it missed qualifying for last year’s NCAAs by one stroke at the NCAA Regional.

Playing on the Karsten Course this weekend could be a benefit to UNM because the course will serve as one of this year’s NCAA Regional sites. The Lobos could return to the Karsten Course in six weeks, depending on the seeding for the regional events.

“But we’re not even thinking about all that,” Millican said. “All we’re thinking about is this week’s tournament and school. It just adds to the fun of our guys’ calendars at this time of the year.”

As long as the Lobos continue to play the same brand of golf they’ve been doing all spring, their fun during the spring season could be just beginning.