Lobo Men's Golf Team Gets Ready for Stretch Run

April 5, 2012

Lobo Men's Golf Release - ASU Thunderbird Inviational Get Acrobat Reader

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Just a month away from the biggest tournaments of the year, Glen Millican is a relaxed man.

The University of New Mexico men’s golf coach is going to get too overanxious this time of the year, anyway – not with 11 years of experience as the Lobos’ coach.

But heading into the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, which takes place Friday-Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., the 2011-2012 team has been a model of consistency.

Through the first 10 tournaments of the year, the Lobos, ranked 19th in the country by Golfweek.com, have finished no lower than fifth. They’ve won one tournament – the Lone Star Invitational in October – and finished runner-up on three other occasions.

The team’s level of play each event is what has Millican so calm.

“I’ve never had a team that’s done that,” he said from Tempe, where the team is playing a practice round today before competing in the 17-team field with 36 holes Friday and 18 holes Saturday at the ASU Karsten Course. “Even in 2005 when we had a great year and won five times, we had some tournaments (three) where we didn’t finish in the top five.

“So that’s a good sign of consistency, what we’ve done this year. If we keep that streak alive, that would be awesome.”

Finishing in the top five at the ASU Thunderbird would be another coup for a UNM team that features two juniors (John Catlin and James Erkenbeck) and three freshmen (Gavin Green, Victor Perez and Sean Romero). The field includes No. 6 California, No. 9 Washington, No. 11 and Mountain West rival UNLV, No. 13 and MW rival San Diego State, No. 31 Oklahoma and No. 49 Arizona, along with the host Sun Devils – the team most familiar with the course.

Of the six Lobos participating (senior Alex Estrada is competing as an individual), only Erkenbeck has played the Karsten Course. He shot a 12-over 225 as a freshman in 2009 to finish in a tie for 79th place.

UNM current trio of freshmen are seeing better results. The lowest result by any freshman this season has been a tie for 43rd. Victor Perez, in fact, has been the Lobos’ hottest golfer their last three events. Perez, who came to UNM from Semeac, France, has three top-10 finishes during that span, including a fifth-place effort at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate on March 16-17 in Austin, Texas for his best performance as a Lobo.

“We’ve had different guys step up at different times this year. That’s how you want it,” Millican said. “You don’t want to rely on just one person or two people.”

The tournament allows UNM to get another look at the Rebels and Aztecs –the two teams most likely standing between the Lobos and a conference championship May 5-6 in Tucson. The winner of that even earns an automatic bid to the NCAA West Regional from May 17-19.