Sept. 28, 2009
Bremerton, Wash. - The University of New Mexico men's golf team wrapped up a strong showing at the prestigious PING/Golfweek Invitational Monday afternoon, finishing sixth in a 15-team field selected to preview next spring's NCAA Championship field.
The Lobos shot a 7-over-par 295 in the final round at the Gold Mountain Golf Course, finishing the invitational with a 32-over 896. New Mexico's performance on the final day of the PING was good enough for the Lobos to leapfrog three spots in the final standings after closing the first two rounds in ninth place.
New Mexico finished ahead of a number of teams ranked in the Golfweek Top 50, including No. 4 Chattanooga, No. 14 USC, No. 16 Alabama, No. 31 Kent State and No. 35 Indiana. Also among the teams the Lobos finished higher than are all three Mountain West Conference foes in the field - No. 29 UNLV, No. 34 Colorado State and TCU.
"Our guys did a good job after a rough first round," said Lobos' head coach Glen Millican. "I'm proud of the way we hung in there and made a pretty solid event of this trip. That's a pretty good performance against a very good field."
Key to the Lobos' final-round climb up the leader board was the performance of sophomore James Erkenbeck and freshman John Catlin. Erkenbeck closed with a 1-over 73 to cap the tournament having carded a 5-over 76-72-73=221 - good enough to finish tied for 10th place. It marks the first time Erkenbeck, who has New Mexico's lowest scoring average coming into the 2009-10 season, finishes in the top 10 this season.
Catlin, the Carmichael, Calif., native, closed the PING with a 1-under 71 to finish with an 8-over 78-75-71-224 to finish tied for 23rd. The PING is Catlin's first varsity tournament for the Lobos.
"(Erkenbeck) was 6-over through his first 14 holes, then played the next 40 holes at 1-under," Millican said. "That's a great job of hanging in there. To notch a top-10 finish against such a strong field is impressive.
"Catlin shot a 71 today. To see him shoot under par today with the winds blowing at near 40 miles-per-hour at times - that was great to see. To see a freshman improve his score each round and cap it off with a round under par in those conditions - he had an impressive first tournament for us."
Junior Travis Ross finished just outside of the top 25, carding a 9-over 75-74-76=225 to tie for 27th. Senior Nick Geyer finished tied for 30th with a 10-over 75-76-75=226 and fellow senior Brandon Putnam closed with a 17-over 79-77-77=233.
Oklahoma State, ranked third nationally by Golfweek, won the team title by a whopping 22 strokes, posting a 2-under 290-287-285=862. Host Washington finished second with a 20-over 295-294-295=884, while Arizona State (300-293-296=889, +25), North Carolina State (297-301-295=893, +29) and defending NCAA National Champion Texas A&M (302-300-293=895, +31) round out the top five.
The Cowboys' Peter Uihlein took medalist honors, carding a 5-under 69-71-71=211. Uihlein's teammates Morgan Hoffman (74-70-69=213, -3) and Trent Whitekiller (71-73-72=216, E) finished second and third, respectively. TCU's Pontus Gad 72-74-72=218, +2) and Texas A&M's Cameron Peck (76-71-72=219, +3) complete the top-five individual performances.