Letzig Leads Lobos Back to NCAA Championships
Auburn, Wash. - The University of New Mexico men's golf team is heading back to the NCAA Championships behind the strong play of senior Michael Letzig. The Lobo senior held off a late charge by Arizona's Ricky Barnes, the current U.S. Amateur Champion, to shoot a 71 today and capture individual honors at the NCAA West Regional. Letzig finished at 8-under-par 208 to win his second straight tournament. He won the Mountain West Conference individual title earlier this month. As a team, the Lobos tied for fifth place at +15. The top-10 teams advance to the NCAA Championships later this month. UCLA took home the team title by shooting even par over the 54-hole tournament.
After posting two scores in the 60's, Letzig struggled a bit on the front nine of today's round. He managed a birdie on the par-3 eighth hole, but bogied six and nine. Meanwhile, Barnes was making a charge up the leaderbord, tying the Washington National Golf Club course record with a five-under 67. Letzig, however, kept his cool and sank birdies on 13 and 15 to go along with seven pars on the back side to secure the win.
"It wasn't a spectacular ball-striking showing," stated Letzig. "My short game and putting kept me in it the whole time. Today I wasn't trying to be aggressive. I just wanted to hit a bunch of greens and two-putt each hole. I really didn't think I played well enough to win, but I guess I had good timing."
Freshman Jay Choi had a strong round of 70 today. He got hot on the front side with three consecutive birdies at six, seven and eight. He finished at +2 for the tournament, tied for 18th overall.
"Obviously, Michael carried us the whole week," stated head coach Glen Millican. "We never were really in jeopardy of not making the top-10 because he played so well. Jay came out today and had a good round for us, too. All you want to do is finish in the top-10 and advance to nationals. Finishing first or tenth doesn't make a difference until you get to nationals."
Junior Ian Medlock and sophomore Jay Reynolds both finished the tournament at +13, tied for 84th place. Medlock shot an eight-over 80 in today's round while Reynolds carded a 77. Sophomore Madalitso Muthiya finished tied for 96th place at +18. He shot a 78 in today's round.
Oklahoma State is this year's host for the 2003 NCAA Men's Golf Championships. The tournament takes place May 28-31.