Men's Golf: Lobos Seeking Return Trip To NCAA Championships
OPENING DRIVE: The 17th-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team, fresh off its first-ever Mountain West Conference Championship, continues its postseason at the 2003 NCAA Men’s West Regional Golf Championship in Auburn, Washington, May 15-17. The Lobos, the 7th seed in the regional, are looking to make their second-straight trip to the NCAA Championships. Last year, the Lobos finished tied for 1st place at the West Regional in Albuquerque, then went on to Columbus, Ohio, where they finished in 26th place overall.
The low 10 teams and the low two individuals not on those teams from each NCAA Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships to be held at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Oklahoma, May 27-30.
Fifty-four holes of stroke play golf over three days of competition shall decide the team and individual champions. The tournament features 18 holes of play on each date, starting at 8:12 MST. The final group tees off at 1:21 p.m. Participants will play in threesomes during the competition.
THE FIELD: A total of 27 teams and six individuals from across the country have qualified for the 2003 West Regional. In order of seeding, the field includes: 1. UCLA, 2. UNLV, 3. Arizona, 4. Georgia, 5. Arizona State, 6. Washington, 7. New Mexico, 8. USC, 9. Pepperding, 10. San Diego State, 11. California, 12. Fresno State, 13. Cal-Irvine, 14. Brigham Young, 15. Colorado State, 16. UTEP, 17. Denver, 18. Oregon, 19. Austin Peay, 20. Stanford, 21. Oregon State, 22. Old Dominion, 23. Xavier, 24. Oral Roberts, 25. Navy, 26. Central Connecticut State, 27. Loyola.
New Mexico head coach Glen Millican will take Michael Letzig, Jay Choi, Madalitso Muthiya, Ian Medlock and Jay Reynolds for competition.
THE COURSE: The NCAA West Regional will be played at the Washington National Golf Club, a par-72, 7,183-yard course.
RESULTS: Results from the NCAA West Regional can be found on the UNM website at www.GoLobos.com as soon as is possible following play each day. Live results are also available at www.golfstat.com.
LAST TIME OUT: The Lobos earned their first ever Mountain West Conference Championship in Bend, Oregon, by outdistancing second place finisher Brigham Young by nine strokes.
It was a record-breaking run for New Mexico. With a team score of 564 through 36 holes, New Mexico broke the old record of 566 set by UNLV in 2000. The Lobos led wire-to-wire, posting a team score of 291, for an 855 total, on a chilly weekend with intermittent precipitation.
UNM was led by senior Michael Letzig's final round, three-under 69.,which forced a playoff with Colorado State's Martin Laird. Letzig claimed individual honors on the first extra hole with a par on the par-4, 386-yard first hole.
Letzig began the day tied for seventh place, five shots back of the leader. Laird took a three-shot lead into the final round at eight-under 136, before carding a two-over 74. It was Letzig’s second win this season. In New Mexico’s first fall tournament, the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate in Albuquerque, Letzig took the top prize with a 9-under par 207.
Madalitso Muthiya, Jay Reynolds and Ian Medlock all finished in the top-10 for the Lobos. In fact, they all finished tied for 10th place with identical three-day scores of 218. Both Muthiya and Reynolds finished tied for 10th place at last year’s MWC Championship. Following the presentation of the championship trophy, Letzig was named MWC Player of the Year while Lobo head coach Glen Millican was named the league's coach of the year in only his second year as head coach of UNM.
2003 Mountain West Conference Men's Golf Championship
1 New Mexico 276-288-291-855 (-9) 2 Brigham Young 281-285-298-864 (E) San Diego St. 281-293-290-864 (E) 4 UNLV 287-290-291-868 (+4) Utah 290-289-289-868 (+4) 6 Colorado State 287-288-297-872 (+8) 7 Wyoming 287-298-300-885 (+21) 8 Air Force 305-308-310-923 (+59)
New Mexico Individual Scores
1 *Michael Letzig 69-72-69-210 T10 Madalitso Muthiya 68-72-78-218 T10 Jay Reynolds 71-73-74-218 T 10 Ian Medlock 77-71-70-218 35 Jay Choi 68-77-84-229 LOBOS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: The Lobos are ranked No. 17 in the most recent GolfWeek and Precept Coaches polls, dated May 6, 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, climbed from 27th to 26th in the GolfWeek rankings while freshman Jay Choi is at No. 167 (down from No. 124) after peaking at No. 53 following his win at the Club Glove Intercollegiate at Pepperdine. Jay Reynolds checks in at No. 155 in the May 6 GolfWeek poll and Madalitso Muthiya is ranked at No. 199. Choi’s win at the Club Glove made him the first true UNM freshman to ever win a tournament.
UNM IN THE NCAAs: The University of New Mexico has competed in the NCAA Championships 11 times in the last 13 years and on 26 occasions overall since 1952. The team’s highest finish came in 1973, when the Lobos finished in 4th place overall. The best individual finish by a Lobo came in 1981 when Tommy Armour III finished tied for 5th place after carding a three-round 289.
Current UNM assistant coach Ryan Murphy finished tied for 25th place during the 1997 Championships at Northwestern University while current UNM senior Michael Letzig finished tied for 34th in 2000 while just a sophomore.
Last season, the Lobos finished tied for 1st place at the West Regional in Albuquerque then finishedin 26th place at the Championships in Columbus, Ohio. The Lobos’ highest individual finisher was the now-departed Scott Hailes. He shot a 3-over par 287 (+3) anchored by a third-round score of 68 to finish tied for 38th place in the 156-player field.
SEASON TO DATE: The Lobos are having a banner 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, Jay 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).
The Lobos’ hot play continued through February as they finished in a tie for 2nd place at the 21-team John Burns Intercollegiate field. Michael Letzig paced the Lobos with two rounds of 70 and a round of 73 to finish in a tie for 12th place overall.
March saw the Lobos slip some. Hurt by the absence of Jay Reynolds to a back injury, the Lobos struggled some, but tied up the spring season nicely with their championship run at the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
After erasing the memory of two consecutive finishes out of the top-10 (Morris Williams Intercollegiate and Toyota Men’s Collegiate) with a second-place finish at the National Invitational Tournament, the Lobos slipped again some, ending up in 14th place at the 19-team ASU Thunderbird Invitational. The Lobos’ 8-under par team score (289-281-285856) was not enough to tame the fiery 824 shot by host school Arizona State, which at 40-under par was an ASU Thunderbird record. In fact, all but one team finished over par, exemplifying the rigidity of the field.
Michael Letzig was the Lobos’ highest finisher (T17th, 209, -9) in the 182-player field. He shot a 64 in the second round to tie him for the second-lowest round in school history. It also matched Letzig’s lowest career round that he shot at the John Burns Invitational in 2001.
Following Letzig were Jay Choi and Derek Abel (T65th, 218, +2), Ian Medlock (T78th, 220, +4) and Madalitso Muthiya (T92nd, 223, +7). In both the fall and spring seasons, the Lobos played in 10 varsity events. Of those 10, New Mexico had four top-3 finishes (including a win at the William H. Tucker), three finishes between the 4th and 6th place spots and three finishes out of the top-10.
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 right) 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 foresaw included a Mountain West Conference title, which the Lobos earned this year, and another trip to the championships, this time with a better showing. UNM returned three of the five golfers that played at the championships, and Millican believes that the 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.”
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.
ASSISTANT COACH RYAN MURPHY: Ryan Murphy is in his 2nd season as an assistant coach for UNM after having played for the Lobos for four years and competing professionally in several local and national tournaments. Murphy's main responsibilities include recruiting and heading the Top-100 Club, UNM's main fundraising source. Murphy also contributes his vast experience at the collegiate and professional level to coach Lobo golfers with the mechanics of their swing and the mental aspect of competition. Murphy was a four-year letterwinner for New Mexico from 1993-97 under John Fields. He twice earned academic All-America honors for his performance in the classroom. Murphy (pictured left) had a career stroke average of 75.04 and played in the NCAA Championships each of his four seasons. He was a member of UNM"s Western Athletic Conference Championship team in 1996 and he helped lead the Lobos to a sixth-place tie in the 1996 NCAA Championships, their best finish since 1979. Murphy's best career finish as an individual was when he tied for sixth in the 1995 WAC Championships. His low round was 68 in both the 1995 and 1996 Taylor Made Intercollegiate and his low tournament was 213 (-3) in the 1994 John Burns Intercollegiate. After graduating from UNM in 1997, Murphy went to PGA Tour Qualifying School in both 1997 and 1998. Although unsuccessful at qualifying for the tour, Murphy has been playing professionally since graduation. He was able to play in three events this past summer, including the San Juan Open (5th place finish), the New Mexico Open (4th place finish) and the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am (8th place finish). In 1996, he served as assistant pro at the Army/Navy Country Club in Fairfax, Virginia. More recently, Murphy worked in Academic Services at UNM with the Lobo men's basketball team. He was responsible for organizing class schedules, establishing study hall sessions, monitoring the satisfactory progress of student-athletes and degree counseling.
LETZIG NAMED MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE MONTH: New Mexico senior Michael Letzig was named Mountain West Conference Men's Golfer of the Month for September after leading the Lobos to a team victory at the William H. Tucker Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. and a second-place finish at the Sooner Invitational in Frisco, Texas. Letzig fired a three-round total of nine-under 209 to win medalist honors at the William H. Tucker Invitational. It was his second career tournament victory. Letzig followed that performance with a tie for second at the Sooner Invitational, shooting a 10-under 206. He was named national golfer of the week for the Sept. 20 issue of Golf World Magazine.
LETZIG NAMED NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Michael Letzig 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 was named to the GolfWorld Top 50 Male Players to Watch List prior to the 2002-03 season. 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. This year, Letzig is on pace to shatter the UNM individual single-season stroke average record set by Tim Herron in 1993. Herron finished with a 71.85 average and Letzig is currently carrying a 70.91 stroke average.
Charlie BeljaN SIGNS WITH NEW MEXICO: UNM head coach Glen Millican recently announced the signing of two golfers 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. 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. 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 have great rounds. But he would always come back with a great round. Not just a good round but a great round.”