SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS SCOREBOARD
1. UNLV (+1)
2. Oklahoma State (+5)
3. Oklahoma (+8)
T9. New Mexico (+22)
1. Carl Johnson, UNLV (-2)
2. Wyndham Clark Oklahoma State (-2)
T6. Gavin Green (E)
T26 Victor Perez (+4)
T62 Sam Saunders (+9)
T62 Andrej Bevins (+9)
T69 Sean Romero (+11)
In Las Vegas, Nev., University of New Mexico junior men’s golfer Gavin Green started the spring season a little more slowly than he would’ve liked to start the 2014 spring season.
On Friday, he showed signs that his play could begin to pick up.
Green shot an even-par 72 to finish tied for sixth place the first round of the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters on Friday. He bogeyed 18 to drop out of a tie for third place with TCU’s Julien Brun, UCLA’s Jason Garrick and UNLV’s Taylor Montgomery.
Green, the No. 26-ranked golfer on the Golfweek.com/Sagarin men’s collegiate poll, kept UNM within shouting distance of the lead. The 19th-ranked Lobos overcame early struggles to right the ship during its last nine holes and finish tied for ninth place with No. 5 Georgia in the 15-team event at 22-over 310.
All 15 teams are ranked in the top 50, and seven teams are ranked in the top 10.
"Par on this course is a great score," coach Glen Millican. "The conditions were really difficult to start with, and then it was windy all day. Gavin played will"
The Lobos were sitting at 15 over after their first nine holes – they started out the day on the 10th hole at the challenging Southern Highlands Golf Club course – but gave up just seven more strokes the rest of the way.
"They call this course the 'Masters' because that's their goal," Millican said. "The greens are set up like the Masters. It's really a national championship-like setup. We started on the back nine, and it's hard starting on that side. And then it's hard to play when you're behind the eight-ball."
Even Alabama’s Trey Mullinax, the No. 1-ranked collegiate player coming into this week in the Golfweek.com/Sagarin poll, shot an 8-over 80 to tie for 52nd after the first round of the event.
Host and 37th-ranked UNLV has the team and the individual lead after the first 18 holes. The Rebels shot a 1-over 289 for a four-stroke edge on third-ranked Oklahoma State. The Rebels’ Carl Johnson and the Cowboys’ Wyndham Clark share the individual lead at 2-under 70.
No. 14 Oklahoma is third at 8-over 296, followed by No. 9 Stanford. Top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama and No. 20 UCLA are fifth at 11-over 299.
UNM did manage to finish ahead of No. 4 California (26-over 314) and No. 2 Georgia Tech (27-over 313).
As expected, the Lobos’ top two players, juniors Green and Victor Perez, had solid rounds. Perez overcame trouble on the back nine in which he bogeyed three of the first four holes, and tied for 26th at 4-over 76.
The Lobos’ less experienced players each lost some strokes over stretches on the golf course. Junior Sam Saunders played a seven-hole stretch at 8 over par and finished 9 over for the round with an 81 to tie for 62nd with three other players, including true freshman teammate Andre Bevins.
Bevins was at 10 over through the first 11 holes before settling down and finishing the round in much better fashion.
Junior Sean Romero was 8 over after the first eight holes and nine over after 10 holes and carded an 11-over 83 on Friday. Romero is tied for 69th.
All three are playing at the Las Vegas event for the first time.
"That's a good sign of keeping your composure," Millican said. "They're capable of playing better, but there are more experienced teams here that have had players who have played this course before that are struggling, too. Regardless of their scores, this is still a great experience for them and something that's going to help them down the road."
The Lobos will tee off today at 9:27 a.m. Mountain Time.