Lobo Rookies Rockin' at MW Championship
May 4, 2012
In Tucson, Ariz., the one question mark the 16th-ranked University of New Mexico men's golf team had going into the Mountain West Championship was how its three freshmen would handle the unfamiliarity of not only the course but also the pressure of playing in the event.
The answers after the first day of the event: 1 under par, 1 under par and 1 under par.
Behind the rookie trio of Victor Perez, Gavin Green and Sean Romero, the Lobos shot a 3-under 281 at the Catalina Course at the OMNI National Golf Club and finished in second place at the MW tournament. No. 15 San Diego State (as ranked by Golfweek.com) shot a 4-under 280 for a one-stroke lead in the eight-team field.
"We played the way you've got to play the golf course," said Lobo coach Glen Millican, who is looking for his first conference title since 2006. "The freshmen did a great job to get us to 3 under par and give us a chance to shoot another low round on Saturday."
The trio is tied for fifth place, four strokes behind the leader, Zahaki Brown of Colorado State. Brown's 5-under 66 even included bogeys on the 17th and 18th holes, and his round helped the Rams finish in fourth place at even-par 284.
TCU is third with a 2-under 282, and No. 14 UNLV is fifth with a 1-over 285.
Perez, who won the Aggie Invitational on April 21-22 in Bryan Texas, had a bogey-free round. Both Green and Romero overcame a rough patch to finish in the red.
Green was 2 under through 10 when he double-bogeyed his next hole and bogeyed No. 13 to creep up to 1-over. The freshman from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia finished with two birdies in his final three holes.'
Romero birdied his first hole but had a double-bogey on No. 2 and bogey on No. 5 to get to 2 over. The Texarkana, Texas native birdied Nos. 10, 11 and 12 to get back under par.
"Both Sean and Gavin did a fantastic job maintaining their composure," Millican said. "Nerves are always different at a tournament like this, but both guys didn't let it bother them and that was good to see."
Catlin finished his last nine holes at 2-under after a bogey on No. 9 left him at 2-over for the round. Erkenbeck, who is playing with a bruised left wrist after hurting it during a practice round Sunday, birdied No. 18 despite playing through some discomfort.
After last year's first round of the MW Championship, the Lobos were in eighth place and 13 strokes off the pace. Millican said he was pleased with the better start but said UNM has to stay focused Saturday.
"It's good to shoot a low score in the first round because you don't have to do anything different," Millican said. "You don't have to try to reel off a bunch of birdies to get back into it. But you do have to come back tomorrow and execute."
The Lobos will tee off at 10 a.m., Mountain Time, with the first-place Aztecs. Golfstat.com has live scoring for the event.