April 13, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas – Glen Millican’s prophetic skills are impressive.
The University of New Mexico men’s golf coach last week was upbeat despite his fourth-ranked team’s inability to hold onto a 36-hole lead at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
The Lobos finished fourth in the event, after which Millican said the experience itself was good for the team for the next time it was in a similar situation.
Zoom ahead one week, and welcome to a similar situation.
UNM is in a three-way tie for the lead with No. 3 Texas and No. 7 TCU after 36 holes of the Morris Williams Intercollegiate at the University of Texas Golf Club.
"I felt like we played better today than we did during the first two rounds last week," Millican said. "Two weeks in a row, we've put ourselves in a good position to win a tournament. It should be fun tomorrow."
The Lobos shot a 6-under 278 in the second round and is 6 under par for the tournament with a 562 (284-278). The Horned Frogs shot matching 281s during Saturday’s first two round of the 12-team event. The host Longhorns turned in a low round of 11-under 273 in the second round to pull even (289-273=562) at 6 under.
No. 42 Texas Tech is fourth (284-282=566) at 2 under and No. 14 Oklahoma State is fifth (285-283=568) at even-par. Eleven teams are ranked in Golfweek.com’s Top 50.
No. 30 UNLV, UNM’s Mountain West rival and winner of last week’s ASU Thunderbird Invitational, is last at 23 over (304-287=591).
"That just shows you that great teams can struggle at times," Millican said. "When you have a great field like this one, there's not a lot of separation, so you have play your best to have a chance."
The Lobos again forged a tie for the lead with a team effort. Senior James Erkenbeck (71-68=139) is tied for fourth at 3 under par. TCU’s Julien Brun is the individual leader at 8 under (65-69=134) and has a three-stroke lead over Oklahoma State’s Jordan Niebrugge (70-67=137).
"James, John and Victor were very solid today," Millican said.
Senior Benjamin Bauch, who shot a 7-over 78 on the first 18 holes Saturday, shaved 10 strokes off that total in round two and is tied for 37th at 4-over 146 (78-68).
"That was a huge turnaround for us," Millican said of Bauch's performance. "To display that kind of composure is just a great step for our team."
Sophomore Gavin Green is tied for 41st at 5-over 147 (73-74).
The only negative about the event so far, Millican said, is that it coincides with the Masters', and the team can't watch.
"If Fred Couples were in the lead, I might've had to think about where I wanted to be," Millican joked. Unfortunately for Couples and fortunately for Millican, Couples shot 5 over and is seven shots off the lead.
The Lobos will be in the last group on Sunday and will tee off between 8:03-8:37 a.m. Mountain Time. UNM is vying for its fourth tournament win this season.