LOBO MEN'S GOLF
EVENT: National Invitational Tournament, Friday-Sunday
LOCATION: Tucson, Ariz., Omni Tucson National Resort
FIELD: 14 teams, including No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 California, No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 20 New Mexico, No. 24 UNLV, No. 32 SMU, No. 36 San Diego State and No. 39 TCU
LOBOS COMPETING: Joe Abella, Andrej Bevins, Gavin Green, Victor Perez, Sean Romero, Sam Saunders
LIVE SCORING: Golfstat.com (9 a.m., all three days)
There are pluses and minus about being a University of New Mexico men’s golf student-athlete in the midst of a three-tournament, 18-day excursion.
The pluses deal with the “athlete” side; the minuses deal with the “student” side.
The 20th-ranked Lobos, who just came back from a 10th-place finish at the star-studded Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas, Nev., turn right around for Tucson today to compete in the National Invitational Tournament from Friday-Sunday at the Omni Tucson National Resort.
The team gets spring break off but then immediately heads back out on the road for the Lone Star Invitational on March 24-25.
So while the players’ golf games stay sharp, they have to play catch-up to stay ahead of their school work.
“That’s the hard part,” UNM coach Glen Millican said. “They left Wednesday of last week to play in Las Vegas, come home for two days to unwind from that trip and have to do things in their classes to get ready to miss three more days this week.
“Fortunately, we have spring break when we get back, but then we’re back out on the road when school starts back up, so it can be a grind.”
That’s to be expected as the golf team rolls along the heart of its schedule. Millican said the team did mostly fundamental things to get ready for the NIT, in which UNM is the defending champion.
The Lobos had a bit of free time to practice on their own, but Millican is hoping that their final round in Las Vegas – where they shot an even-par 288 and finished better than 12 of the 15 ranked teams in the field during the final round – gives them momentum and confidence heading into Tucson.
“That (Las Vegas) event is going to help us down the road,” Millican said. “Now all our guys know what they’re getting into and how prepared they have to be when we get to the postseason.”
Juniors Gavin Green and Victor Perez are veterans on their third-go round though UNM’s hectic spring schedule. Juniors Sam Saunders and Sean Romero, and true freshman Andrej Bevins still are getting their feet wet.
Sophomore Joe Abella joins the team this week in Tucson and will compete as an individual.
The Lobos still are trying to nail down the team that they want to have when the postseason arrives, starting with the Mountain West championships in late April. Green and Perez have spots nailed down; Saunders and Bevins are written in heavy lead, if not in pen, and Romero, Abella and Mitch Johnson still are competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
So how the team performs in the midst of it hectic schedule could go a ways in determining the lineup for the stretch run.
“I think we’ve got a chance to play really well this week,” Millican said. “Hopefully, we’ve got some momentum from our last round. There will be more birdie opportunities in Tucson than there were last week.
“We’ll see if we can continue to build that confidence as we move along.”