LOBO MEN’S GOLF
Event: Lone Star Invitational
Site: Briggs Ranch CC, San Antonio, Texas, UTSA host
Teams participating: 14, including No. 21 New Mexico, No. 28 Baylor and No. 44 Purdue
Lobos competing: AndreJ Bevins, Gavin Green, Victor Perez, Sean Romero, Sam Saunders, Joe Abella (individual)
Live scoring: Golfstat.com
Unlike the NCAA basketball tournament, the 21st-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team can’t actually build up for the postseason that begins next month with the Mountain West Championship.
It’s too difficult to get golfers to peak during the spring. So coach Glen Millican has done the next best thing.
“What we’ve tried to do, and we do this every year, is to get them to play as many different courses in different parts of the country as we can so that we’re prepared to play in any regional in any part of the country on any course,” Millican said. “We’ve played twice up north in Iowa and Minnesota. We’ll have played twice in the east, in Florida and at Augusta (Ga.), next month, which will be our last regular season tournament. We’ve played twice in Arizona, and we’ll have played twice in Texas.”
The Lobos finished fourth at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas at the end of October. They return to Texas – this time San Antonio – for the Lone Star Invitational on Monday-Tuesday. UNM is the highest ranked team in the 15-team field at the Briggs Ranch Country Club.
“We feel like we’ve given them the toughest competition we can on a variety of courses,” Millican said. “So we should be ready for anything.
The Lobos have had their moments in the spring. They were third at the Arizona Intercollegiate in January; their last round at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters early this month was better than those of 11 other ranked teams in the top 50. Their 9-under 279 last week at the National Invitational Tournament was their best round of the season.
But UNM still is trying to put it all together for an entire tournament, as it did twice in the fall when it won the Gopher Invitational and the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate.
“We’re playing pretty good golf,” Millican said, “and we’ve exposed them to as many different scenarios as we can, so they should be prepared with the Mountain West tournament and regionals come around.”
The Lobos will take the same six players that competed in the NIT – juniors Gavin Green, Victor Perez, Sean Romero and Sam Saunders and true freshman Andrej Bevins will comprise UNM team. Joe Abella will compete as an individual.
Much like the team, the Lobos individually have shown flashes of greatness but still are looking for the consistency they’ll need when they reach postseason play.
Green, ranked 20th in the nation individually by Golfweek.com/Sagarin, and Victor Perez are the team’s most experienced players and have last year’s run to the NCAA Championship match-play portion under their belts.
Saunders has been the team’s most consistent player, finishing in the top 20 in three of the last four events. Romero came up big at last week’s NIT, finishing tied for 10th at 4 under.
Bevin was at 5 under and 3 under during portions of the last two rounds at the NIT, respectively, before finishing with a 2-over-par score. And Abella shot a first-round 68 at the NIT before coming back to the field and finishing at even par.
“Hopefully, they’ve been put in enough situations to where they know what to do,” Millican said. “This week will be a good test for them because we haven’t had to play 36 holes in a day since last October. The goal is to get them to experience as many things as possible before the conference tournament and regionals so that they won’t have to deal with anything new when they get there.”
The teams will play 36 holes Monday and 18 more on Tuesday with a 9 a.m. shotgun start each day.