Men's Golf: Talented Field Awaits Lobos At Morris Williams Intercollegiate
OPENING DRIVE: The 15th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team continues its string of match ups with the nation’s elite programs at Monday’s 37th annual Morris Williams Intercollegiate in Austin, Texas. The 18-team field features seven top-20 programs, including four that come from the top 10 nationally. All but four of the teams in the Morris Williams are ranked in the top-50. Play begins at 6:15 a.m. MST Monday, March 17 with 36 holes, and play is completed on Tuesday beginning at 7 a.m. MST, with 18 holes set for that day. Results will be available after each day at www.GoLobos.com.
THE FIELD: In addition to New Mexico, the full field of the Morris Williams Intercollegiate includes (rankings in parentheses): Arizona State University (26), the University of Arkansas (20), Baylor University (38), Brigham Young University (44), Fresno State University (40), Georgia Tech (14), the University of Houston, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (2), the University of North Florida, Oklahoma University (27), Oklahoma State University (10), Pepperdine University (19), the University of Southern California (35), the University of Texas (5), Texas A&M University, Texas Christian University (3) and the University of Tulsa. New Mexico head coach Glen Millican will take Michael Letzig, Jay Choi, Madalitso Muthiya, Jeff Briggs and Ian Medlock for competition.
THE COURSE: The Morris Williams Intercollegiate is played at the Austin Country Club Golf Course, a Par-72, 6,906-yard course. The Morris Williams Intercollegiate is named after the former University of Texas golf star, who died in a jet plane while in the Air Force in 1953.
RESULTS: Results from the Morris Williams can be found on the UNM website at www.GoLobos.com as soon as is possible following play Monday and Tuesday.
LAST TIME OUT: “We’re gluttons for punishment,” said UNM head coach Glen Millican of the highly-talented Toyota Men’s Collegiate field, where the Lobos finished 13th out of 16 teams. He of course is referring to the fact that the Toyota field consisted of eight teams in the top-10 nationally, including No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 UNLV, No. 3 TCU, No. 4 Augusta State and No. 5 Texas. Still, the Lobos finished ahead of 9th-ranked Florida and 12th-ranked Minnesota, so calling their finish a success is fair. New Mexico finished with a three-day total of 879 (+15) which was a 17-stroke improvement from the team’s score at the same tournament a year ago. Junior Ian Medlock was the Lobos’ top finisher. He finished tied for 17th place with three rounds of par or better (71-72-72215, -1). Michael Letzig finished in a tie for 34th place (73-70-77220, +4), Jay Choi finished knotted at 39th (75-72-74221, +5), Madalitso Muthiya carded a 224 (74-73-77) to finish tied for 57th place and David Schultz finished tied for 70th place with a three-day total of 231 (79-76-76). New Mexico’s Jim Anderson played as an individual and he finished all alone in 76th place (79-79-78236, +20).
JV UPDATE: At the UC-Riverside Braveheart Classic, the UNM men's JV golf team finished 13th in the 16-team field. The host Highlanders were the only team to finish above par (845, -19) and were 23 strokes ahead of their nearest competitor, the University of Denver, which finished at 868 (+4). The Lobos carded a three-day total of 901 (+37) in their third JV event of the season. Jeff Briggs (pictured right) was the Lobos' highest finisher. He ended up tied for 26th place after scorching the links for a second round 70 and a third round 69. He had posted an 82 in the first round. The round of 69 was Briggs' lowest of the year. Derek Abel finished tied for 31st place (71-78-74223, +7) freshman Jeb Grueneberger finished tied for 54th (76-79-74229, +13), Tyler Symons finished tied for 62nd (82-76-73231, +15) and Jeremy Kirkland finished tied for 71st place (79-80-75234, +18) in the 135-player field.
Top Team Finishers: Place Team Score 1 UC-Riverside 845, -19 2 University of Denver 868, +4 3 University of Utah 870, +6 4 Cal-Poly 876, +12 5 CSU-Northridge 880, +16 13 New Mexico JV 901, +37
UNM Finishers: Place Name Score T26th Jeff Briggs 82-70-69221, +5 T31st Derek Abel 71-78-74223, +7 T54th Jeb Grueneberger76-79-74229, +13 T62nd Tyler Symons 82-76-73231, +15 T71st Jeremy Kirkland 79-80-75234, +18
LOBOS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: The Lobos are ranked No. 15 in the most recent GolfWeek and Precept Coaches polls, dated March 10, 2003. GolfWeek had the Lobos ranked 3rd in the October 5 poll, the highest ranking ever attained by a UNM men’s golf team. Senior Michael Letzig, the Mountain West Conference Golfer of the Month for September, is ranked a stellar 36th in the GolfWeek rankings with a rating of 70.61 while freshman Jay Choi is at No. 102 after peaking at No. 53 following his win at the Club Glove Intercollegiate at Pepperdine. Jay Reynolds checks in at No. 130 in the Mar. 10 GolfWeek poll. Choi’s win at the Club Glove made him the first true UNM freshman to ever win a tournament.
SEASON TO DATE: The Lobos are off to a torrid start for the 2002-03 season. UNM captured both the team and individual (Letzig) titles at the William H. Tucker in Albuquerque on Sept. 13-14. The Lobos shot even-par 864 over the three rounds, five shots better than second-place UNLV in the 18-team field. The Lobos’ team title was its second in as many years. A few days later, New Mexico tied for second among 10 schools at the Sooner Invitational in Frisco, Texas. UNM carded a 19-under 845, tying for the fourth-lowest 54-hole score in school history. At the Club Glove Intercollegiate in Somis, California, Choi carded a three-day score of 211 to share top honors with UC-Irvine’s Jeff Coburn. The Lobos finished fourth at the Club Glove Intercollegiate with an 887 team score. The UNM JV squad took top honors at the WNMU Intercollegiate, held October 14-15 at the Links at Sierra Blanca in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Ian Medlock shot an unbelievable 201 (-15) to win the individual crown, while David Schultz followed in 4th place (210) and Jeremy Kirkland finished tied for 6th (211). Capping fall action, the Lobos finished fifth out of 19 teams at the Barona Collegiate Cup in Lakeside, California. Madalitso Muthiya had his best showing of the fall season, finishing tied for 9th place (212, -4), while Letzig shot a 214 (-2) to finish tied for 17th. Then to begin the spring, the Lobos roared back from a 10th place finish after day one of the PING Arizona Intercollegiate to finish tied for 6th place with Arizona State. Four of the Lobos’ five position players finished with par or better rounds to launch New Mexico into a final day score of 278 (-2). For the tournament, the Lobos carded a total of 848 (-4).
MEDLOCK SHOOTS RECORD LOW IN RUIDOSO: Junior Ian Medlock shot the second-lowest 18-hole ound of golf in UNM school history at the WNMU Fall Intercollegiate in October. His 64 ties him for second best all time, with senior Michael Letzig, who shot a similar score at the 2001 John Burns Invitational. Only Tim Herron’s 62 at the 1992 William H. Tucker Invitational bests these scores. Medlock’s three-round score of 201 is also tied for second-lowest in school history with Herron’s score at the ‘92 William H. Tucker, while Letzig holds the school record with a three-round score of 199 at the 2001 John Burns Invitational.
HEAD COACH GLEN MILLICAN: Second-year head coach Glen Millican (pictured left) didn’t waste any time making news in his rookie campaign as head coach, as UNM tied for the NCAA West Regional title and earned a berth in the NCAA Golf Championships. While the Lobos finished a disappointing 26th out of 30, Millican feels that was a great step into continuing the success of this program. “All-in-all, I’m happy with the way we played last year,” Millican said. “I think we could have performed better at the championships, but I think some of our youth showed that last weekend. But, for the returning guys, that will prove to be a valuable experience and something that will help get us to the next level.” That next level Millican foresees includes a Mountain West Conference title and another trip to the championships, this time with a better showing. UNM returns three of the five golfers that played at the championships, and Millican believes that threesome, along with the younger guys, gives them a realistic shot at making that happen. “We do have some good experience coming back, and we have some young guys who will now get the opportunity to show what they can do. I am extremely excited for this season.” Millican was named UNM’s seventh coach since World War II on June 25, 2001 replacing J.T. Higgins, who departed for Texas A&M after four years in the Cherry and Silver. The 27-year old Millican served as the Lobos’ assistant from 1998-2001, following his graduation from UNM in 1998. He was a four-year letterwinner for the Lobos and played in the 1997 NCAA Championships. Millican was an Academic All-American in 1997. He is assisted by another former Lobo, Ryan Murphy (UNM ‘97). Murphy was also a four-year letterwinner for the Lobos and competed in the NCAA Championships in each of his seasons (1993-96). He was an Academic All-American in 1996 and has been playing professionally the last few years.
LETZIG NAMED NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Michael Letzig(pictured right) was named national player of the week by Golf World Magazine in its Sept. 20 issue. With a final-round 70 at the William H. Tucker, Letzig became the first Lobo to win the individual title in five years. His nine-under 207 was three shots better than runner-up Ryan Moore of UNLV. Letzig finished in a tie for second at the Sooner Invitational, carding a 10-under 206.
LETZIG NAMED TO WATCH LIST: Senior Michael Letzig has been named to the GolfWorld Top 50 Male Players to Watch List. The senior from Richmond, Mo., had a 72.56 stroke average last season, which ranks seventh-best in UNM history. His best finish last year was a second place mark at the Tucker, and he finished in the top-10 four times last season. Letzig was named a Freshman All-America by the Golf Coaches Association of America in 2000.
RECRUITS: UNM head coach Glen Millican recently announced the signing of two players to be eligible for the 2003-2004 season. Charlie Beljan (Mesa, Arizona - Red Mountain High School) and Brian Meck (Austin, Texas - Westwood High School) will join the Lobo squad and both come in as highly touted players.
Charlie Beljan Beljan is the reigning 2002 USGA Junior Amateur Champion and he advanced to the round of 32 in the 2002 USGA Amateur Championship. He was an invitee to the Walker Cup Team Trials, the equivalent to the Ryder Cup for amateurs and usually reserved for the best amateurs in the country. “For a junior player to be invited to the trials is just unbelievable,” Millican said. “They pick 21 guys, mostly amateurs, and coaches pick the best twelve to compete against Great Britain and Ireland. There are only two juniors invited to the trials.” Beljan is also the reigning Arizona State Junior Match Play Champion, the reigning Arizona State Stroke Play Champion and as a high school junior won the 2001 Arizona High School Regional Championship and the 2001 Arizona High School State Champion. “He’s obviously a good player, but what I like most about Charlie, is that he’s an extremely competitive person,” Millican said. “When he’s on the course you can tell by his body language that he really wants to win. He’s going to bring out the best out of everyone on our team.”
Brian Meck : It seems that Millican turned to his “Austin Pipeline” again in signing Meck, as he will join current Lobos Jay Reynolds and Jeff Lanier, who also hail from Austin. Meck was a first team All-American selection by the Jim McLean Future Collegians World Tour and finished 20th at the 2002 World Junior Championships. At the AJGA Robert Trent Jones Tournament, Meck finished 12th and he finished in second place at the 2002 AJGA Preseason Tournament in Las Cruces, New Mexico. “Brian has a lot of the same characteristics as Charlie,” Millican said. “He’s totally devoted to playing golf and probably spends more time on his golf game than anyone I’ve recruited. I’ve seen him play some junior tournaments where he didn’t great rounds. But he would always come back with a great round. Not just a good round but a great round.” Of Millican’s success in recruiting players in the Austin area, reporter Kevin Robbins of the Austin American-Statesman said, “junior golfers in Austin are beating a path to Albuquerque, N.M., land of the Lobos. Westwood High School senior Brian Meck will play golf for the University of New Mexico next year, joining freshman Jeff Lanier (Westlake) and sophomore Jay Reynolds.”