NCAA MEN’S GOLF AUBURN REGIONAL
First-round leaders: 1. Alabama, 1-under 287; 2. Texas, 5-over 293; 3. Auburn, 6-over 294; 4. Colorado, 8-over 296; T5 Kennesaw State, Louisville, 9-over 297; 7. North Carolina-Greensboro (UNCG), 10-over 298; 8. BYU, 11-over 299; T9. UC-Davis, Sam Houston State, 12-over 300; 11. Virginia Tech, 13-over 301; 12. New Mexico, 14-over 302; 13. Alabama State, 23-over 211; 14. St. John’s 27-over 315.
Individual leaders: 1. Robin Sciot-Segrist (Louisville), 3-under 68; T2. Niclas Carlsson (Auburn) and Yannik Paul (Colorado) 2-under 70; T4. Zach Cabra (Sam Houston State), Taylor Coalson (UNCG), Beau Hossler (Texas), Marco Iten (Austin Peay State individual). Trey Mullinax (Alabama), Luke Vivolo (UC-Davis), Cory Whitsett (Alabama), 1-under 71.
Lobo finishers: T13. Sam Saunders 1-over 73; T39 Gavin Green and Victor Perez, 4-over 76; T46. Joe Abella, 5-over 77; T63 Sean Romero, 9-over 81.
Live scoring: Golfstat.com
In Auburn, Ala., the 22nd-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team couldn’t get untracked during the first round of the NCAA Auburn Regional on Thursday, but is only five strokes away from a qualifying position for the NCAA Championships.
The problem is the number of teams standing between the Lobos and the No. 5 spot.
Junior Sam Saunders shot a 1-over 73 as UNM shot a 14-over 302 to finish the first round 12th in the 14-team event at the Auburn University Club.
The Lobos trail top-ranked and first-round leader Alabama by 15 strokes. The Crimson Tide represented the only team to shoot under par with a 1-under 287.
No. 13 Texas is second at 5-over 293, but tournament host and 21st-ranked Auburn at 6-over 294. Colorado is fourth at 8-over 296, followed by Kennesaw State and Louisville, which are tied for fifth at 9-over 297.
Five other teams also are ahead of the Lobos, including 14th-ranked Virginia Tech in 11th place with a 13-over 301.
The top five teams in the regional advance to the NCAA Championship from May 23-28 in Hutchinson, Kan.
“We didn’t play that great today,” Lobo coach Glen Millican said, “but we’ve still got two more rounds to go. There are a lot of teams bunched up, and we’ve definitely got to go out and shoot better than we did today to have a chance.”
Saunders, who won a local U.S. Open qualifying stage last week, was the only Lobo to record multiple birdies with three during his round. He is tied for 14th, four strokes behind tournament leader Robin Sciot-Siegrist of Louisville.
Sciot-Segrist shot a 3-under 68 and leads Auburn’s Niclas Carlsson and Colorado’s Yannik Paul by one shot.
“Sam had a good round today,” Millican said. “He sloughed up in the middle a little bit, but if he continues to play the way he did today, he’s going to have a really strong finish.”
Juniors Gavin Green and Victor Perez, members of last year’s UNM NCAA Columbus Regional championship team, both managed one birdie each and struggled to score 4-over 76s for a 39th-place tie.
Sophomore Joe Abella labored on the back nine with four bogeys that led to his 5-over 77 finish and a tie for 46th place.
Junior Sean Romero suffered two double-bogeys that pushed his first-round score to a 9-over 81 and a tie for 63rd.
“We’ve just got to get back out tomorrow and shoot the best round we can,” Millican said. “We can still be in control of our own finish, but we have to go out there and put a round together that we’re capable of doing.”
UNM is scheduled to tee off at 7:50 a.m. with Sam Houston State and Virginia Tech.