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UNM men’s golf team looks to pull off NCAA shocker

UNM sophomore Galven Green won the individual title at the Mountain West tournament. (Courtesy UNM)

The Louisville Regional features some of the best men’s golf teams in the NCAA — six conference champions and defending national champ Oklahoma State.

Safe to say, it would be improbable for University of New Mexico, the No. 11 seed at the Louisville Regional, to win it, let alone finish in the top five to advance to the NCAA Championships.

But the Lobos are no strangers to improbabilities. They are OK with pulling off a stunner. They are just fine with proving the majority wrong.

UNM coach Glen Millican and his golfers believe they are capable of advancing to what would be their 43rd NCAA Championships appearance because of what they accomplished at the Mountain West Conference Championship that ended on April 28 at OMNI Tucson National in Arizona

The Lobos shot a Mountain West tournament-record 33-under-par 831 to win their seventh MWC title by three strokes and qualify for their 21st NCAA Regional appearance. They’ve advanced to the NCAA Championships 17 times since the regionals format began in 1989.

The Lobos’ showing at the MWC tournament was easily their best of the season. Their previous best team score was 22-under at the National Invitational Tournament that ended March 19 also, at Tucson National, where UNM finished sixth out 16 teams.

“What we have to do to get out of that regional is play well,” Millican said. “And, we have to beat some good teams. Well, that’s exactly what we did at the conference tournament. We went to the conference tournament knowing that we had to play great. Pretty much knew that we had to win.”

Throughout the past year, Millican had been telling his Lobos that they are a great team. They lived up to that at the MWC Championship.

Sophomore Galven Green matched his season-low score with a 66 in the second round at the MWC tournament. He went on to win the individual title after edging teammate Sean Carlon on the third playoff hole. Green and Carlon finished tied at 13-under-par 203 before the playoff.

Carlon also matched his season low with a 67 in the opening round. Freshman Sam Choi shot his season low, a 66, in the final round when the Lobos went 14 under.

“It was an awesome experience,” said Green, who became UNM’s first MWC individual champ since 2014, when his older brother Gavin won it and led the Lobos to the team title. “I’ve never been a part of this team when we won an event. When that happened, I feel like everything broke loose, and now we’re wanting to find out what’s next.”

Green, from Malaysia, said his brother, who now plays on the European Tour, visited him about a month ago and helped him with his game.

“It obviously paid off,” Galven Green said.

Millican said Gavin Green came to UNM as a good player and left as a great one. Galven Green concurred and that development solidified that he wanted to be a Lobo, too.

Galven Green remembers sleeping on his older brother’s apartment floor in Albuquerque when he visited as a 10-year-old. Later, “I hardly looked at other schools. It was just in my mind that I would come here,” he said.

The recruitment of Carlon also went smoothly for Millican. Carlon, who prepped at Hope Christian, grew up a Lobo fan.

“I’s a top-notch golf program in my backyard,” Carlon said, who also visited Arizona. “There’s nowhere else I was going to go. With growing up around the program and seeing how important championships are to the program and how important they are to the city, I mean, who wouldn’t want to win a conference championship for your home city?”

Carlon is one of four seniors (Augustin Holé, Mark MacGrath, Isaac Alderete) graduating on Friday and then leaving for Kentucky the next day. The regionals take place Monday through Wednesday at the University of Louisville Golf Club, a 7,192-yard par-72 course.

“It will be a good experience for everybody and I’m excited,” Carlon said. “It’s my senior year. This will be my third regional. It’s exciting to go back and compete for a national championship.”

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