Green Makes Charge to 2nd-Place Tie in Las Vegas
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/09/2014


1. UNLV (+22)
T2.Stanford, Oklahoma State (+24)
T4. UCLA, Alabama (+33)
10. New Mexico (+41)

1. Patrick Rogers, Stanford (+1)
2. Gavin Green, UNM; Kurt Kitayama, UNLV; Wyndham Clark, Oklahoma State; Jonathan Garrick, UCLA; Toni Hakula, Texas, Michael Schoolcraft, Oklahoma (+1)

UNM scores:
T2 Gavin Green (+3)
T12 Victor Perez (+6)
T42 Sam Saunders (+13)
T67 Andrej Bevins (+20)
T69 Sean Romero (+22)

In Las Vegas, Nev., the final result may not have been close to what the 19th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team wanted, but its final round was.

Junior Gavin Green’s fantastic play down the stretch – playing his 12th through 15th holes at 5-under – helped him shot a 2-under 70 on Sunday and finish the 54-hole Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters at 3-over, good enough for a six-way for second place.

Buoyed by Green and junior Sam Saunders’ low final-round score of 3-under 69, the Lobos shot an even-par 288 to move up to a 10th-place finish in the 15-team event at the Southern Highlands Golf Club. UNM was tied for 12th heading into the final round.

The result was only the fifth time New Mexico has not finished in the top five in its last 36 events, dating to the 2011-12 season, but the experience may have been worth the trip.

UNM (310-307-288=905) shot a 41-over 905 in the field composed of all top-50 teams. Only No. 17 Texas (2-under 286), No. 3 Oklahoma State (1-under 287) and No. 4 California (1-under 287) had a better final-round score.

“It was just a really good way for us to finish the tournament.” Millican said. “Last night, we talked about being in a situation where a lot of teams are bunched up and there’s a chance for you to move up if you play well. It was really similar to last year at nationals, where we were within striking distance of moving on to match play and made it happen.

“I was proud of their effort today. They’ll learn a lot from it, and hopefully it shows that they can compete against some of the elite teams we’ll see down the road.”

The Lobos finished 19 stroked behind host, champion and Mountain West rival UNLV (289-303-294), which carded a 22-over 886 for a two-stroke victory over the Cowboys (293-308-287) and No. 7 Stanford (297-297-294).

Defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama finished tied for fourth with No. 20 UCLA at 33-over 897. Both teams shot 299s all three rounds.

Despite the Lobos’ 10th-place performance, they fared better than No. 2 Georgia Tech (315-302-300=917, +53) and No. 6 Texas A&M (321-308-289=918. +54).

Green appeared to be just trying to hold on to a top-20 finish after playing the first 11 holes at 3 over but then hit birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie on Nos. 12-15 to help his team.

Green (72-77-70=219) trailed only Patrick Rodgers of California by two strokes after the three-day event. Rogers had a 74-69-74=217 to win the event by two strokes over six players.

“Gavin played really well this week; he just wasn’t getting rewarded for it, so it was nice to see him finally get a few things to go right. He was plodding along, and then he got it going. He actually had a chance to win the tournament. He barely missed birdie putts on two of his last three holes.”

Earlier in round, fellow junior Victor Perez loomed as the Lobo threatening the lead. But his double-bogey on No. 6 pushed him back to a second-round, 2-over 74. Perez finished the event with a 76-72-74= 6-over 222 for a 12th-place tie.

Saunders climbed 21 spots with his 3-under 69 on Sunday. Saunders finished with 81-79-69=229 for 13 over and a tie for 42nd place. Saunders’ Sunday round tied with those of the nation’s No. 1 collegiate golfer (according to Golfweek.com/Sagarin) Joey Garber of Georgia and fourth-ranked Brandon Hagy of California.

“Sam didn’t hit the ball real well the first two rounds; he was a lot more in control today,” Millican said. “He also seemed to figure some things out about the layout of the course. It was a huge round for him and a huge round for us.”

True freshman Andre Bevin shot his best round of the event – a 3-over 75 – for a total of 81-80-75=236 and a tie for 67th place at 24 over.

Junior Sean Romero’s final-round score was 4-over 76 – also his best round of the event --  to tie for 69th at 22-over 238 (83-79-76).

The Lobos will try to capitalize on his final-round performance when it travels to Tucson, Ariz. to defend its title at the National Invitational Tournament Friday-next Sunday.

“They’re going to go back home for a couple of days, get some school in and recharge after grinding this weekend,” Millican said. “Then we’ll go to Tucson and see if we can build on what we did today.”