LOBO MEN'S GOLF -- at John Burns Intercollegiate, Lihue, Hawaii
WHEN: Wednesday-Friday, 8 a.m. shotgun start first two days, 8:30 final day
TEAMS: No. 3 California, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 15 New Mexico, No. 29 UNLV, No. 38 BYU, Arizona, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawai‘i (two teams), Hawaii-Hilo, Long Beach State, Nevada, Pacific, St. Mary’s, UTEP, Washington State.
LOBOS COMPETING: Andrej Bevins, Gavin Green, Mitch Johnson, Victor Perez, Sam Saunders. Joe Abella competing as an individual.
LIVE STATS: Golfstat.com
As far as business trips go, a week in Hawaii might be a bit of distraction in terms of getting work done.
Not that University of New Mexico men’s golf coach Glen Millican is worried.
The 15th-ranked Lobos are on the Island of Kaua‘i this week to play in the John Burns Intercollegiate from Wednesday-Friday at the Wailua Golf Course. UNM is one of 17 teams competing and one of five ranked teams, according to the latest Golfweek.com/Sagarin poll. No. 3 California, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 29 UNLV and No. 38 BYU are the other ranked teams in the field.
The Lobos make the trip every year, finishing second to then-top-ranked California last year, albeit on a different course in Hawaii. But three of the six players representing New Mexico this season, are making the trek for the first time.
“We’re going to see a few things while we’re out there,” Millican said, “but really, most of the time we’re pretty busy with what we’re doing in connection with the tournament that there isn’t a lot of time for much else.”
Juniors Gavin Green, Victor Perez and Sam Saunders each have played at the John Burns Intercollegiate (Green and Perez twice), and thus should be good role models for sophomore Joe Abella, redshirt freshman Mitch Johnson and true freshman Andrej Bevins.
The latter three are making their maiden voyage to Hawaii with the team. Bevins and Johnson will be part of the team rotation, and Abella will compete as an individual.
“The way Sam, Gavin and Victor go about their business, that’s really all you need,” Millican said. “We’re fortunate to have Sam back in the lineup (he redshirted last season). It gives us three juniors on the road, a little more maturity on the road.
“We’ve already been to some nice places; we went to Orlando (Fla.) in the fall, and our young guys were able to see the older guys not getting wrapped up in other things.”
As a result, Millican can start to get a feel for how his team is playing during a stretch in which the team plays five tournaments in the next six week before the Mountain West tournament from April 25-27.
“We’ll start to see more ‘normal’ golf as the weather gets warmer,” Millican said. “The courses won’t be frozen and we’ll see some more realistic scores and conditions. We’re getting to the point where we’re going to have to find out who we can rely on as we get closer to the postseason."
Green, ranked the No. 18 collegiate golfer in the U.S. by Golfweek, will be in the Lobos rotation barring injury. He had a slow start to the spring, tying for 28th at the Arizona Intercollegiate in January, but had top-20 finishes in all six of his tournaments this year before Arizona, including two wins.
Perez, with five top-20s in six events, also will be involved. He is a two-time All-MW selection.
Saunders had the best finish of his Lobo career, a tie for fifth at the Arizona Intercollegiate in January. If he can continue to perform at that level, UNM should move up in the national rankings.
Bevins has three top-20s in six events, including a tie for medalist honors at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate in September. He is looking to sew up a spot among the team’s five starters, as are Abella, Johnson and junior Sean Romero, who has 24 career tournaments under his belt.
“A few guys have a chance to separate themselves and establish themselves in the rotation,” Millican said. “When you have competition, it should elevate everybody’s game and give us guys who will have already withstood the pressure.”
The John Burns Intercollegiate begins Wednesday at 11 a.m. MT with a shotgun start. The tournament will feature 18 holes each day through Friday; the scheduled start time for the final round is 11:30 a.m. MT.
Live scoring will be available on Golfstat.com.