Sam Saunders
Sam Saunders
Lobo Golf Men Off to Vegas To Test Mettle
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/06/2014

Lobo Men's Golf

UP NEXT: Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters
DATES: Friday-Sunday
LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nev.
TEE TIMES: 9 a.m. MT
LIVE SCORING: Golfstat.com
LOBOS IN THE FIELD: Andrej Bevins, Gavin Green, Victor Perez, Sean Romero, Sam Saunders

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The from the moment the University of New Mexico men’s golf team tees off at the Southern Highlands College Masters in Las Vegas, Nev., this weekend, it will find itself in the rough.

Aside from the fact that all 15 teams playing in the three-day event beginning Friday at the Southern Highlands Golf Club are ranked in Golfweek.com/Sagarin’s Top 50, the course is one of the toughest the 18th-ranked Lobos will play this season, coach Glen Millican said.

“Our focus this week has to be on the golf course,” Millican said. “It’s set up in a way that you really don’t see at other courses we play, except for maybe the national championship course. From a scoring standpoint, par has an incredibly high value.

“On a course like this, you have to be continuously thinking. The pin placement and greens are the most challenging areas. It’s hard to get the ball to stop close to the hole because the greens are usually fast. If you hit it on the wrong side of the hole, you can get into trouble. The rounds average about six hours, and you need precision with your iron game.”

The course requires a lot of patience, Millican added, which is why he is bringing his most experienced group to Vegas – four juniors to go along with true freshman Andrej Bevins, who is playing like a veteran.

Juniors Gavin Green and Victor Perez are the team’s anchors, having been starters since they were freshmen. Junior Sam Saunders is playing the most consistent golf so far this spring, and junior Sean Romero has more experience than anyone on the team not named Green or Perez.

Saunders is the only player who has top-20 finishes in both events UNM has played in the spring.

“The good thing about Sam is he doesn’t get too high or too low when he’s playing,” Millican said. “He has good control of his game, has a nice short game and can post low numbers when he gets his putter going.”

Green currently is the No. 25 individual collegiate golfer, according to Golfweek/Sagarin, although he has just one round under par total in the first two spring events combined.

“Gavin’s OK; he just needs to putt well,” Millican said, confirming an analogy that putting is similar to hitting outside shots in basketball.  “If he can make a couple of putts early, that might get him going. Sometimes, you can talk yourself into or out of making putts, depending on how your feel is early on.”

Romero has played the Vegas course before. Millican hopes his experience will help him … and the Lobos.

UNM is embarking on a key stretch in its schedule, with three tournaments in 16 days, starting in Las Vegas.

“Our focus is always to play the best we can and put ourselves in a position to win,” Millican said, “but this is an important time during the schedule.”

The teams tee off from Nos. 1 and 10 at 9 a.m., on all three days. Live scoring is available at Golfstat.com.