In Windermere, Fla., the 11th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team found out Tuesday how far away it is from the No. 1 spot in the collegiate ranks.
The Lobos crept up another spot during the final round of the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational and finished 12th among the 15 teams playing 54-hole event at the Isleworth Golf and Country Club. UNM shot a 14-over 302 on Tuesday and finished at 28-over 892 (297-293-302).
Top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama proved why it was undefeated going into the tournament by winning with a 26-under 838 (280-272-286). The Crimson Tide defeated No. 16 and co-host UCF (282-281-287=850, 14 under) by 12 strokes.
Alabama, which defeated UNM 4-1 in match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship in May, shot a course-record 16-under 272 on Monday and showed its dominance against a field that included 13 other teams ranked in Golfweek/Sagarin’s Top 50.
No. 4 California (284-286-289=859) was third at 5 under. Those were the only teams under par at the event.
“On a golf course like this, where the shots and the areas you have to hit are that specific and precise, course management is crucial,” UNM coach Glen Millican said. “When you don’t know the course real well, sometimes it can come back and get you.”
Lobo juniors Gavin Green and Victor Perez, who were part of the UNM team that advanced to the NCAA Championship’s match-play round last season, finished with solid results at the Isleworth.
“Gavin and Victor both did a nice job to finish high in a great field like this,” Millican said. “Both had to battle back a little bit, but they both had a good tournament.”
The pair tied for 16th at 1-over 217. Green (77-70-70) made his way back into the top-20 after shooting 5 over in the first round. Perez (70-74-73) was UNM’s most consistent player during the event. The duo finished 12 strokes behind Alabama champion Trey Mullinax (66-68-71), who carded an 11-under 205.
Florida State’s Hank Lebioda was second with a 7-under 209 (72-68-69).
The UNM golfers playing Isleworth for the first time struggled. True freshman Andrej Bevins’ 8-over 80 during the final round left him tied for 64th place at 15-over (74-77-80=231). Junior Sam Saunders (80-73-79) and sophomore Dylan Healey (76-76-80) tied for 66th at 16-over 232, after shooting 7 and 8 over par, respectively, on Tuesday.
“Hopefully, this was something that they can learn from,” Millican said of the three.
The Lobos get a chance to regroup right away as they will return to action on Monday for the two-day, 54-hole Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas, Texas.
“Maybe with the way we struggled out here, it got their attention a little bit,” Millican said, “and then we can come back next week and be ready to go to Texas.”