May 17, 2007
The University of New Mexico men's golf team burned through the first round of the 2007 NCAA West Regional in Tempe, Ariz. Today, shooting its best score of the season. With temperatures nearing triple-digits, the only thing hotter may have been Lobo senior Charlie Beljan. Beljan had two strings of four birdies in a row to finish with a 7-under score of 65 at the 7,057-yard Karsten Course. The Lobos are tied for third in the team standings with a 13-under total of 275 (65-68-69-73). UCLA leads the event after posting a 20-under-par total of 268.
Beljan stumbled out of the gate with a bogey on the opening hole, but he responded with four-straight birdies to post a 3-under 32 on the outward nine. He carded his second run of four consecutive birdies on 11-14 before giving up a stroke with a bogey on 16. Beljan got another red circle with a 4 on the par-5 17th to finish at 7-under. He is alone in second place in the individual race, one stroke off the pace set by UCLA's Erik Flores.
"I bogeyed No. 1 to start off the day, but I knew there were a million birdie holes out here today," stated Beljan. "I just had to stay patient. I got on a little run early when I made four birdies in a row. I hit all of the approach shots within 5-6 feet and made some putts. I continued to play well despite missing a few more opportunities. I was able to capitalize on some later in the round to go on anther stretch of four birdies in a row."
His 65 today ties his career-best for 18 holes and is his lowest round at an NCAA Regional. Beljan loves the ASU Karsten Course, having won the 2007 ASU Thunderbird Invitational with a career-low 54-hole total of 201 in April.
"I don't know that there is one particular thing I like about this course," explained Beljan. "It is my hometown and I have my family and a few friends here so I am real comfortable. I am just teeing it up trying to have fun rather than trying to post a number."
Beljan wasn't the only Lobo posting low scores. Sophomores Nick Geyer and Steve Saunders both shot in the 60's in their opening rounds. Geyer hasn't played a competitive round since April 3, but chalked-up a season-low 69 today. He was very steady in his round that included five birdies and a pair of bogeys. Geyer is tied for 21st in the field of 141 golfers.
"Nick's last event was the Tucson National and you can tell by the way he played today that he worked on his game while he was out of the lineup," stated UNM head coach Glen Millican. "We all know he is capable of shooting that score so it was nice to see him put a good round together to start the tournament."
Saunders finished with a 68 for his third straight round in the 60's. He was also very steady today with five birdies and only one bogey. Saunders finished strong with birdies on 14, 15 and 17 to close out his round in a tie for 12th overall.
Freshman Kyle Nielsen shot a 1-over 73 in his first action at an NCAA Regional. He was even through his first eight holes before posting a triple-bogey on the par-4 ninth hole. Nielsen battled to play the back nine in 2-under, carding three birdies and a bogey on his way in. Junior Robb Bierbaum shot a 2-over 74 in what was also his first NCAA Regional action today.
"We couldn't really think of a better way to start, that's for sure," added Millican. "Everybody played solid. Three guys made a few more putts than the other two but we hung in there and posted our best score of the year."
Round 2 starts tomorrow with the Lobos teeing off in the afternoon group. UNM is scheduled to begin play at 11:42 a.m. (P.D.T.). Live scores will again be available through GoLobos.com. The top-10 teams after following the three-round event advance to the NCAA Championships. The Lobos are looking to advance after missing out on the NCAAs last season. The top two individuals on non-advancing will also be invited to the NCAA Championships.