The 2013-14 University of New Mexico men’s golf team has picked up where the 2012-13 team left off.
Junior Gavin Green and true freshman Andrej Bevins each shot 1-under-par 70s to help the Lobos shoot a 1-under-par 283 Monday to preserve their lead and win the season-opening Gopher Invitational in Independence, Minn.
UNM, ranked 10th in the preseason by Golf Digest, was the only team in the 12-school field to finish under par for the 54-hole event, finishing at 4 under (280-285-283=848) and defeating second-place Baylor (278-295-281=854, 2 over) by six strokes. Preseason No. 22 Kent State was third at 5 over (289-279-289=857), followed by preseason No. 2 California at 7 over (291-281-287=859).
It was the third victory in the last four tournaments for the Lobos, going back to 2012-13. They won the Mountain West championship and the NCAA Columbus Regional championship before finishing fifth in the NCAA Championship to close out last season.
That team included three seniors. The new team has two players in Bevins and Joe Abella who have joined juniors Green and Victor Perez, both of whom were the other starters on last year’s team.
“This is a very good start for us,” UNM coach Glen Millican said. “This is the first tournament with this group. Obviously, Gavin and Victor want to have another great year, but really, we don’t talk about last year. We have a good group of guys who played pretty well their first time out. Nobody played perfect, but today gave our guys a great experience.”
Green shot 5 under for the tournament (68-70-70=208) to finish in third place, two strokes behind medalist Corey Conners of Kent State. Conners (71-66-69=206), who shot 7 under. California’s Brandon Hagy was second at 6 under (70-69-68=207).
“Gavin played well; he just didn’t putt as well as he normally does,” Millican said. “He put himself in a position to win; he just needed a few more putts to drop.”
Bevins shot a 2-over 215 (75-70-70) to finish tied for 13th. Abella struggled with a 6-over 77 on Monday after going 2-under after the first two rounds. Abella finished tied for 16th with a 4-over 217 (69-71-77).
“Both those guys did a great job for us,” Millican said. “Joe’s first two rounds were solid. Andrej had a triple bogey on the sixth hole of his first tournament. Otherwise, he would’ve been under par.”
Perez tied Abella at 4-over 217 (70-76-71), struggling only in round two. Junior Sean Romero, an integral part of the 2011-12 team, finished at 6-over 219 (73-74-72) to tie for 24th in the 62-player field.
“This was a championship-style course,” Millican. “It will definitely help us with other courses we’ll see this season.
The team win was the 23rd under 13-year coach Millican. He is six tournament wins shy of becoming UNM’s all-time leader in victories.