Lobos Golf Men Nearly Make It Back-to-Back
Oct. 23, 2012
All but one.
In Windermere, Fla., the No. 6 University of New Mexico men’s golf team lived up to its lofty national ranking Tuesday.
Led by senior James Erkenbeck’s 3-under 213, the Lobos captured runner-up honors at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, posting a 2-under 286 in the final round for a three-day total of 870 and 6 over par. The score was just two shots shy of tournament winner and top-ranked California.
The Bears (284-295-289=868), No. 1 in the Golfweek.com/Sagarin rankings, posted a 3-over 289 on the final 18 holes to hold off UNM (293-291-286=870) in the 15-team event that featured 13 top-50 teams and five top-10 programs. Eighth-ranked Alabama (296-292-285=873) finished third at 9 over par, followed by No. 2 and defending national champion Texas (288-295-296=879, 15 over) and 28th-ranked Illinois (291-291-300=882, 18 over).
"A result like this just confirms to our guys what they're capable of doing," 12th-year Lobo coach Glen Millican said. "I was really impressed with the way we played the last round."
UNM, which trailed the Bears by five strokes entering the final round, started Tuesday on fire at 5 under par midway through the round and actually had a two-stroke lead at that point. California, however, followed suit to reclaim the lead.
The Lobos fell back to par for the round and 8 over for the tournament over the next five holes and trailed by seven before making a closing charge. The Bears, still on the course after UNM had finished, watched their five-stroke lead dip to two but hung on for the win.
"Playing well never gets old," Millican said. "Posting a score and making a great team like California come in an earn it was really exciting. When you see your guys competing well and having success, that's what's most fun as a coach."
New Mexico had been looking for back-to-back tournament victories after winning the William H. Tucker Invitational by 29 strokes on Sept. 28-29 at the UNM Championship Course.
Erkenbeck (72-70-71=213) tied for runner-up honors individually, shooting a 1-under 71 on Tuesday and finishing one stroke behind medalist Michael Kim of California Kim shot a 1-over 73 Tuesday to finish at 4-under. Alabama’s Justin Thomas tied Erkenbeck for second place.
Sophomore and William H. Tucker Invitational champion Gavin Green posted his third top-10 finish of the 2012-13 season, grabbing ninth place at 3 over (73-73-73=219).
The consistency both Erkenbeck and Green showed is about the biggest contribution the golfers can make to the team portion of an otherwise individualized game.
"It's good for the coaches and it's good for the players to know that they don't have to play the round of their lives for us to compete," Millican said. "They can relax and play their game, and that's when they're most capable of posting a low score."
Senior John Catlin tied for 37th with a 10-over par 226 (78-73-75).
The Lobos have a quick turnaround as they get ready for the Royal Oaks Invitational in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 29-30.
"We had a little faster turnaround from the PING Golfweek Preview to the Tucker," Millican said. "We had just one day of practice between the events. This one won't be quite as fast and furious; we'll have three days to get ready, but the way the guys played the last three days, I know they'll be anxious to go out and compete again."