New Mexico Lobos – 2014 Mountain West Men’s Golf Champions (Updated 8:10 p.m. with Glen Millican, Gavin Green quotes)
Where: Catalina Course at Omni Tucson National Resort -- Tucson, Ariz.
Final-Round Team Results: 1. New Mexico 279-281-286=846, -6. 2. San Diego State 281-288-280=849, -3. 3. UNLV 280-295-276=851, - 1. 4. Air Force 287-295-279=861, +9. 5. Colorado State 292-294-288=874, +22. 6. Nevada 296-290-292=878, +26. 7. San Jose State 292-308-283=883, +27. 8. Wyoming 290-303-291=884, +32. 9. Utah State 298-295-292=885, +33. 10. Fresno State 307-299-297=903, +51. 11 Boise State 293-306-305=904, +52.
Top 10 Individual: 1 Gavin Green, UNM 70-69=209, -4 (won on first playoff hole). T1. Riccardo Michelini, San Diego State 68-71-70=209, -4. 3. Carl Johnson, UNLV 66-76-68=210, -3. 4. Kyle Westmoreland, Air Force 70-70-71=211, -2. 5. T5. Victor Perez, UNM 70-69-73=212, -1. T5. Xander Schauffele, San Diego State 71-75-66=212, -1. T7. Philip Colwell, Air Force 72-74-67=213, E. T7. Sean Romero, UNM 72-72-69=213, E. 9. Nicholas Maruri, UNLV 71-75-68=214, +1. T10. Dominic Kieffer, Colorado State 71-74-70=215, +2. T10. Nahum Mendoza III 72-73-70=215, +2. T10 Ryan Mulvany, Nevada 75-68-72=215, +2. T10. Sam Saunders, UNM 70-71-74=215, +2.
By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications
Call it “Two for Tucson” – or Two-son? – but it wasn’t easy.
The 22nd-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team lost a nine-stroke lead during Sunday’s final round of the Mountain West Championship in Tucson, Ariz., but Gavin Green captured medalist honors and the Lobos regrouped down the stretch to post a 6-under 846 and claim their second consecutive conference championship.
UNM shot a 2-over 286 Sunday to withstand charges by second-place San Diego State and third-place UNLV. The Lobos (279-281-285=846) finished three strokes ahead of the No. 35 Aztecs, who shot a 5-under 279 for a 54-hole 848 at the Omni Tucson National Catalina Course.
“This is such a tough conference that you’re going to have to earn it,” winning coach Glen Millican said. “We got down by four shots, but we did a great job righting the ship and playing well down the stretch. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.”
The 28th-ranked Rebels shot an 8-under 276 in the final round and finished at 1-under 851. They were 8-under halfway through the round but couldn’t gain ground over the last nine holes. But the Lobos never panicked when the Aztecs took the lead and the Rebels drew near.
“We’ve been in situations like this before this season, whether it’s been to win or just to capture fifth place,” Millican said. “You’re not always going to execute, but in the biggest tournament of the year, we were able to get it done.
The championship is the Lobos sixth under 13th-year head coach Glen Millican and extends the school’s own MW record. It is also UNM’s 23rd conference championship overall since its inception in 1947. Millican.
The Lobos posted an eight-stroke victory here last season, but that team had seniors James Erkenbeck, John Catlin and Benjamin Bauch join then-sophomores Green and Victor Perez.
UNM inserted juniors Sam Saunders and Sean Romero and true freshman Andrej Bevins this season and didn’t skip a beat.
“This is really special,” Green said. “To win with two different group of guys, it feels awesome to win two years in a row. I feel like this team is close to last year’s team (that finished fifth in the NCAA Championship).”
Green shot a 1-under 70 to finish to tie SDSU’s Riccardo Michelini at 4-under to force a playoff. Green (70-69-70 for the event) finished third in the 2013 MW Championship.
Michelini led Green by a stroke as the two headed for the 72nd hole, the last in regulation. Green said he thought he would have to make a birdie on 18, but then Michelini hit his tee shot into the water. Green parred and Michelini bogeyed, and the two went to a sudden-death playoff back on 18.
Again, Michelini bogeyed, opening the door for Green’s par on the victory. He becomes the fourth Lobo golfer to earn medalist honors and the first since Steve Saunders in 2009. In 2011, Travis Ross tied for first in the tournament but lost in a playoff.
Green has four wins this season, three of them coming in a playoff. He beat teammate Bevins to capture the Tucker Intercollegiate at the UNM Championship Course in September. The in the Lone Star Invitational in March, Green ousted Sacramento State’s Owen Taylor for the championship.
“I don’t know what it is about me and playoffs,” Green said. “Even in high school, I played in a lot of playoffs and was able to have success. I just approach it like it’s match play, and I just feel comfortable if I have to go to a playoff.”
The Lobos started off slowly, shooting 3 over par through their first three holes. Bevins’ triple-bogey took him out of the team score early and put more pressure on the other four to play well.
“We were playing four on five early on,” Millican said of Bevins’ slow start. “There are not enough automatic birdie holes to get back and we had to battle all day.”
Romero came up huge for the Lobos on Sunday with a 2-under 69 in the final round to finish tied for seventh place at even-par 213 (72-72-69).
Perez shot a 2-over 73 on Sunday to finish at 1-over 212 (70-69-73) and a tie for fifth place. Saunders had a 3-over 74 to finish at 2-over 215 (70-71-74) and a tie for 10th.
Bevins carded an 8-over 79 to finish at 11-over 224 and a tie for 36th. But it was his 2-under 69 in the first round that helped the Lobos take a one-stroke lead after Friday’s first round.
“I’m just really, really proud of Sam, Sean, Andre, and Joe Abella (a sophomore who played in several events for the Lobos this season but was the odd man out in a qualifying round for the tournament early last week),” Millican said. “For us to lose the great players that we did, and to have to replace an assistant coach (Jim Garren succeeded Brian Kortan last summer when Kortan left to become an assistant at Texas A&M) and have the new guys step up and accomplish what they did is very rewarding for me to see that.”
The Lobos, who now await the May 5 men’s golf selection show announcement of their NCAA Regional destination on the Golf Channel, won their fourth tournament of the year, giving Millican nine victories in the last two years and 26 overall, just two shy of the school record of 28. Dick McGuire has the record as coach of the Lobos from 1954-76.