Stevens: Millican's Lobos Have Home-Turf Edge in Tucker Intercollegiate

Sept. 27, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Men's Golf --- At the Williams H. Tucker Intercollegiate

When/Where: Friday-Saturday - UNM's Championship Course
Who: New Mexico, Arizona, Baylor, Brigham Young, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico State, Pepperdine, San Francisco, Texas-San Antonio, UC Irvine, Utah, UTEP and Wyoming.
Lobo Team Roster:John Catlin, James Erkenbeck, Gavin Green, Victor Perez, Benjamin Bauch.
Lobo Individual Players: Sean Romero, Ryan Barry, Camren Bergman, Joseph Abella.

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

If Glen Millican's New Mexico Lobos happen to grab the home-course advantage and win the 2012 Willliam H. Tucker Intercollegiate, maybe the Lobos should send the trophy over to the Frontier Restaurant on Central Ave.

Millican says his Lobo will rev up on carbs, burritos, green chile and such each morning at Frontier prior to charging over to the UNM Championship Course to battle in the Tucker.

"We eat breakfast both days at Frontier, so that's probably worth a shot a day," said Millican, who added that the green chile gives his players, "a little more distance."

Of course, Millican is kidding - about the distance off the tee box. But there is a definite edge the Lobos take to the links because of their knowledge of the Championship Course and all its bends, breaks and bunkers.

It also helps to be familiar with the huge, undulating greens of the 7,562-yard layout nicknamed "The Monster."

Still, that doesn't mean there isn't a double-edged sword when it comes to playing on and protecting your turf. You have advantages. There also is pressure to take advantage of those advantages.

"You see that a little bit," Millican said of expectations that come with the home course. " I think the older guys sometimes press a little bit thinking they should be perfect out here. That's because they have hit every shot out here perfect at one time or another.

"But that's fine. They should have high expectations out here to play well out here."

The Lobos carry a No. 18 ranking into the 58th annual William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. UNM is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Ping/Golfweek Preview - a field that featured 14 teams ranked in the preseason Top 25.

The Tucker format will play 36 holes on Friday and 18 holes on Saturday with tee times beginning at 7:45 a.m., both mornings. The teams joining the Lobos are: Arizona, Baylor, Brigham Young, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico State, Pepperdine, San Francisco, Texas-San Antonio, UC Irvine, Utah, UTEP and Wyoming.

UNLV, the defending team champ, is not in the 2012 field. UNM was second to the Rebels in 2011 by four shots.

"We always want to have a chance to win every tournament we play in and when it's your home tournament, you want to win it even more.," said Millican. "The guys know that they can beat anybody on this course, but that only happens with great golf. We will work to get in the right frame of mind and then go out and play golf. This is big tournament for us.

"The Tucker has a long history and we've won it nine times, but this is the 58th one and that shows that there are great teams out here and we have to play really well to win."

Millican says he has two goals when it comes to the Tucker: 1- Win it; 2- Put on a first-class tournament.

The Tucker has a 58-year-old history that dates back to the University North course, a track that Arnold Palmer once roamed. It is a tournament with tradition and meaning, but it also is UNM's chance to remind the world of collegiate golf that there are few universities that have a golfing facility that equals the Lobos' track.

"This tournament is as important as anything else we do to promote our program," said Millican. "This is our one chance to show off our university and our course to our sport. We concentrate on that until it's time for our guys to start playing.

"We have good teams coming in here and you want to show off what we have here and let people talk about their time in Albuquerque."

The good times in Albuquerque have included a lot of great players. Tiger Woods (Stanford) and Phil Mickelson (Arizona State) are former champions. The field also has included Ben Crenshaw (Texas), , Bruce Lietzke (Houston), Cory Pavan (UCLA), Mike Weir (BYU), Bobby Clampett (BYU), Notah Begay (Stanford).

Of course, the best round ever shot at the Tucker came off the clubs of a Lobo, who might have duplicated all his perfect shots in his final round of the 1992 Tucker. Tim Herron went 68-71-62 for a 201 total. That 62 and that 201 total still stand as the Tucker record for 18 holes and for a 54-card total.

Which brings up a biting question about Heron's final-round 62. Did he eat at Frontier that morning?