Most would think Adam Roybal could have the advantage today in a U.S. Open local qualifier, as he is the general manager of the UNM Championship Golf Courses. But he’s not the only one with great familiarity of the South course. The 18-hole qualifier will also feature nine current and former Lobos among a competitive field of 43 players.
Galven Green, Brad Cole, Gustavo Morantes and Sean Carlon are current UNM golfers in the event, and there are four former Lobos: Wil Collins, Alex Estrada, Scott Gates and Miguel Griego.
They will by vying for three spots on the par-72 course to advance to U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying on June 4. That’s the final event to move on to the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., June 14-17.
Collins, who played on the PGA Tour in 2009 and now lives in Albuquerque as a mortage salesman, is no stranger to U.S. Open qualifiers, as he made it to the U.S. Open twice (2005, 2013).
The U.S. Open qualifier at the UNM Championship Golf Club is the third of 122 local qualifiers nationwide, including May 14 at New Mexico State University Golf Course.
Roybal, who tees off at 9:10 a.m., and the Lobos know finishing in the top three among a talented field will be next-level challenging, especially if the players are to deal with a windy day.
David Muttitt, who has played in three of the last five PGA Championships and teaches at Los Altos, said any score under par would be impressive on the long course, and when dealing with winds.
Muttitt, who has been dealing with a sore back, made it through the U.S. Open local qualifier at Twin Warriors in 2013 when two spots were available.
Then, at the sectional qualifier at Lakewood Country Club in Dallas, Muttitt finished sixth, missing out on qualifying for the U.S. Open by one spot and one stroke. The sectional qualifier also included Jordan Spieth, Muttitt said.
Spieth, a three-time major winner, was 19 at the time.
There will be some young players in the event at UNM Championship Golf Club. Alejandro Armijo, a Cleveland High senior and the boys medalist at the Albuquerque Metro Golf Championships at Desert Greens on April 16, tees off at 9 a.m.
There will also be older, or more experienced, players. Greg Condon, who won the New Mexico-West Texas Mid-Amateur at Paa-ko Ridge in June at age 56 and at Red Hawk in 2016, is in the same group as Armijo.