Rough 18th Hole Gives Lobo Golf Men Tie for 3rd
May 6, 2012
In Tucson, Ariz., the University of New Mexico men's golf team struggled to finish for the second straight day, costing them not only a chance at the Mountain West Championship, but also a runner-up spot.
The 16th-ranked Lobos played the 18th hole at 4-over as a team Sunday, and TCU snuck ahead to finish second behind winner and 15th-ranked San Diego State. SDSU successfully defended its conference title on the Catalina Course at OMNI Tucson National Golf Club.
The Aztecs shot a 2-over-par 286 to win the event by five strokes with an 8-under 844. The Horned Frogs had the low round of the day with a 3-under 281 and finished at 3-under 849. UNM, which fell to fourth early then reclaimed second for much of the round, shot a 4-over 288 to come in at 1-under 851 and tie for third with 14th-ranked UNLV.
"We were right in position," coach Glen Millican said, "but we didn't finish the way we needed to. But to be heading home disappointed that we tied for third with one of the best teams in the nation in UNLV is definitely a sign of progress - especially when you think that all our guys will be back next year."
Colorado State was 2 over Sunday with a 286 to finish fifth at 1-over 853. Boise State was sixth at 19-over 871, followed by Air Force (30-over 882) and Wyoming (39-over 891).
Junior James Erkenbeck was the top individual finisher for UNM, carding an even-par 71 for a tie for fifth place overall with a 2-under 211 (72-68-71). He was seven strokes behind MW medalist Johan de Beer of TCU. De Beer shot a 5-under 66 and was 9-under for the tournament (67-71-66=204). Julien Brun, de Beer's teammate, shot a 3-under 68 Sunday to tie for second with Colorado State's Zahkai Brown at 7-under 206.
The Lobos were the only team among the top five who didn't have multiple rounds in the 60s. Erkenbeck's 68 on Saturday was UNM's only sub-70 result.
Freshman Gavin Green (70-70-72=212) tied for ninth at 1-under. Fellow freshmen Victor Perez (70-72-73=215, +2) and Sean Romero (70-72-74=216, +3) were 14th and tied for 15th, respectively. Junior John Catlin (71-74-72=217, +4) tied for 17th.
"You've got to play well from start to finish to win events like this," Millican said. "We had a pretty good round going (Sunday), but we gave up a few shots at the end. We started off a little slow, then made a charge on holes 8-13. When James teed off on No. 15, we were only four back."
Romero double-bogeyed No. 18, and Perez and Catlin each bogeyed.
Despite missing the automatic bid, the Lobos' qualifying for the NCAA Regionals on May 17-19 is just a formality. An NCAA committee will determine the top 81 teams Monday night and disperse them to six sites throughout the country.
UNM is one of nine teams out west ranked in the top 16 by Golfstat.com, which is a poll the committee uses to determine seeding and placement, so some of the western teams will have to move to different locations.
The six regionals sites are: Stanford, Calif.; Norman, Okla,; Bowling Green, Ky.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Athens, Ga.; and Greensboro, N.C.
The top five in each regional will qualify for the NCAA Championships from May 29-June 3 at the Riviera Country Club in Palisades, Calif.
Millican said the Lobos will return home, finish finals and then get back on the course and keep trying to fine-tune their game to get to a championship level. UNM finished in the top five in 12 of 13 tournaments it played this season, collecting one win at the Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio, Texas in October.
"There's no magic formula to winning tournaments, Millican said. "But we've put ourselves in position to win more often than not this season; you can't win if you're not in position, so we've got to go back home, finish our school work, start getting excited about the regionals and try to take advantage of a good opportunity that we have."