May 4, 2013 (updated 9:30 p.m.)
By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications
TUCSON--The two-time defending champion San Diego State men's golf team was bound to make a run at this year's Mountain West Championship.
The Aztecs did just that during Saturday's second round. But the University of New Mexico, the first-round leader and sixth-ranked team in the nation, wasn't about to surrender.
The Lobos and Aztecs are tied after 36 holes of the MW Championships at 5 under par. SDSU, which came in at 4-over 288 after Friday's first round, shot a 9-under 275 Saturday to make up six strokes on UNM (282-281).
"San Diego State played great today," said UNM coach Glen Millican, who is chasing his fifth MW championship. "I was a little worried that they might just run away with it today. But then our guys played really well down the stretch."
It was San Diego State that had the lead for most of the round until the Lobos played the final five holes at the Omni Tucson National Catalina Course at 4 under, thanks in large part to senior John Catlin and sophomore and tournament co-leader Gavin Green.
UNLV is third at 3 over par (287-284=571), eight shots off the lead. Air Force (299-279=578) is fourth at 10 over, followed by Colorado State (296-283=579) at 11 over.
Green had a birdie in the final five holes, two on the back nine and shot a 2-under 69 Saturday to earn a share of the lead at 3-under 139 with SDSU's Ricardo Michelini (71-68) and UNLV's Kevin Penner (67-72).
Green is the only one in the 45-player field to shot below par in each of the first two rounds.
"Gavin birdied two of the three par-5s, which was big for him," Millican said of Green's play Saturday. "That's what he has to do if he's going to contend -- he has to take advantage of his length."
Catlin, meanwhile, put himself in contention for the individual title with four birdies on the back nine en route to a 4-under 67, tying for the low round of the day. Catlin (74-67) is tied for seventh at 1-under 141.
Three of his birdies came in the final five holes.
"John putted better today," Millican said. "To win this event as a team, you have to have guys shoot low rounds, and we've somebody do that each day."
Sophomore and first-round leader Victor Perez couldn't keep the hot putter he had going in the first round. He shot a 4-over 75 Saturday to go along with his 5-under 66 Friday and is tied with Catlin and two others at 1-under.
"Victor didn't putt as well today," his coach said. "He bogeyed his first two holes, and I think that made it hard for him to get going."
Senior James Erkenbeck (72-70=142) is tied for 11th at even-par after shooting 1 under on Saturday.
"We've got four guys with a chance, if they play well, to win the tournament," Millican said, "and that's how you have a chance to win as a team."
Senior Benjamin Bauch has matching 75s for his first two rounds and is tied for 29th at 8-over 150.
"Nobody's going to be able to just show up and win," Millican. "It's too tough a conference. We knew this was going to be a challenge. But we're where we want to be, with a great chance to win if we play like we're capable of. I still don't think we've played our best golf."
The Lobos will be in the final grouping with San Diego State and UNLV. The three teams will tee off at 9:40 a.m. Mountain Time.