NCAA MEN’S GOLF AUBURN REGIONAL
Second-round leaders: 1. Alabama, 287-284=571. -5; 2. Auburn, 294-292=586, +10; 3 Kennesaw State 297-291=588, +12; 4. Virginia Tech, 301-291=592, +16; T5 Texas 293-300=593 , +17; T5. BYU 299-294=593, +17; 7. North Carolina-Greensboro (UNCG), 298-296=594, +18; 8. Colorado 296-299=595, +19; 9. New Mexico 302-205=597, +21; 10 Louisville 297-305=602, +26; 11. Sam Houston State, 300-303=603, +27; 12. UC-Davis, 300-304=604, +28; 13. Alabama State, 311-303=614, +38; 14. St. John’s 315-300=615, +39.
Individual leaders: T1. Kelly Burton, Kennesaw State, 73-67=140, -4; T1 Cory Whitsett, Alabama, 71-69=140, -4; 3. Marco Iten, Austin Peay State (individual), 71-70=141, -3. T4 Niclas Carlsson, Auburn, 70-72=142, -2; T4 Beau Hossler, Texas, 71-71=142; T6 Tom Lovelady, Alabama, 72-71=143, -1; T6 Scott Vincent, Virginia Tech, 73-70=143, -1; T8. Bobby Wyatt, Alabama, 73-71=144, E; T8. Trey Mullinax, Alabama, 71-73=144, E; T10. Justin Kelley, BYU, 73-72=145, +1; T10. Robin Sciot-Segrist, Louisville, 69-76=145, +1; T10. Ryan McCormick, St. John’s, 75-70=145, +1
Lobo finishers: T16. Gavin Green, 76-71=147, +3; T16 Joe Abella 77-70=147, +3; T23 Sam Saunders 73-75=148, +4; 55. Victor Perez 76-79=155, +11; T68. Sean Romero 81-81=162, +18
Live scoring: Golfstat.com
In Auburn, Ala., “moving day” was appropriate description for the round that the 22nd-ranked University of New Mexico men’s golf team had on Friday during the second round of the NCAA Auburn Regional, but it wasn’t exactly what coach Glen Millican had in mind.
The Lobos were all over the leaderboard during the second 18 holes of the regional.
The Lobos, who started the day in 12th place, got as high as a fourth-place tie but then hit a rough stretch that pushed them back to ninth place after shooting an 7-over 295 for a two-day total of 21-over 598.
The top five teams in the 14-team field advance to the NCAA Championship starting on May 23 in Hutchinson, Kan. UNM, which was five strokes out the fifth spot after Thursday’s round, did gain a spot on the leaders, finishing four strokes out of the fifth spot after Friday’s results.
Sophomore Joe Abella and junior Gavin Green kept the Lobos in the hunt on the back nine when their teammates struggled. Both tied for 16th place individually.
“We made up some ground, and that’s a positive,” Millican said. “And the whole goal is to put yourself in a position to accomplish what you set out to do.”
In this case, it’s to advance to the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive year. During last season’s NCAA Columbus Regional, UNM was fourth after two rounds but was the only team under par during the final round to win the event.
“We’re capable of posting a low number,” Millican said. “But this is not a veteran group like last year’s was, so that’s a question going in. And we’re probably not going to get a lot of help from teams ahead of us. So it’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I still think if we play like we’re capable, we’ll have a great chance to advance.”
Top-ranked Alabama again was the only team to break par at the Auburn University Club, carding a 4-under 284 to take a 15-stroke lead over tournament host and 21st-ranked Auburn with a 36-hole, 5-under 571 score.
The Tigers shot a 4-over 292 on Friday and sits at 10-over 586. Surprising Kennesaw State, on the strength of individual co-leader Kelby Burton’s 5-under 67 Friday, is third at 12-over 588 after a 3-over 291 in round 2. No. 14 Virginia Tech is fourth at 16-over 592 (with another 3-over 291 Friday), and No. 13 Texas and BYU are tied for fifth at 17 over par (shooting a 6-over 294 Friday).
Eight teams are within 11 strokes of the final qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship.
“That’s the thing about regionals; every team in the field is tough,” Millican said. “That’s why this is the toughest week of the year with so much on the line.”
Burton and Alabama’s Cory Whitsett are tied for the lead at 4-under 140 after 18 holes. Austin Peay State’s Marco Iten, who is competing as an individual, is third at 2-under 142.
Abella, who had shot no worse than 1 over in his last three tournaments but missed qualifying for the Mountain West Championship, birdied three holes on the back nine – which for UNM were hole Nos. 1-9 – and shot a 2-under 70 on the day. He sits at 3-over 147 after posting a 5-over 77 during his first round.
“Joe played a great round on a day we really needed it,” Millican said. “He has been playing well all spring.”
Green birdied two of his final six holes Friday to finish with a 1-under 71 and a tie at 3-over.
Junior Sam Saunders was on his way to matching 1-over 73s during his first two rounds when he found trouble on the par-3 eighth hole and double-bogeyed. Sanders shot 3-over 75 for a two-round total of 4-over 148.
“We had three guys that played well,” Millican said. “But we’re going to need to be better than that (Saturday).”
The back nine Friday was particularly unkind to junior Victor Perez, who had a double bogey and four bogeys over the first six holes during the second half of his round. He managed a birdie on his 17th hole of the day to finish with a 7-over 79. Perez’s 11-over 155 leaves him all alone in 56th place.
And while junior Sean Romero’s back nine wasn’t bad, he struggled to a 7-over on the front nine and finished with his second consecutive 81 and is tied for 68th at 18-over 162.
The Lobos will tee off Saturday with eighth-place Colorado and No. 13 Texas, which is tied for sixth, beginning at 7:50 a.m. Mountain Time.