WOODSTOCK, Ga. — A stroke of self-made good fortune put the University of New Mexico men’s golf team into Friday’s NCAA quarterfinals — where the Lobos were no match for Alabama.
The head-to-head match-play format flattered the third-seeded Tide, which rolled over UNM 4-1. Beyond Lobo Gavin Green’s 5-and-4 win (five holes up with four to play, ending the match) over Alabama’s Trey Mullinax, the Tide’s four other players had easy wins at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.
And just like that, the Lobos’ season ended a day after one of the finest moments in program history.
“There was really nothing we did wrong,” UNM coach Glen Millican said. “Alabama is just a great team that played great today. They didn’t win seven tournaments this year because they were lucky.”
All other quarterfinal matches Friday were 3-2. Top-ranked California meets Illinois in one semifinal today; Alabama faces second-seeded Georgia Tech in the other.
Green’s 4-under 66 on Thursday had helped complete a dramatic comeback for the Lobos. They finished that day’s final round of stroke play tied for sixth among 30 teams, then after waiting five hours, survived a four-team playoff for three qualifying spots into the round of eight. After Tuesday’s first round, UNM was tied for 27th, 22 shots off the lead and 13 shots out of eighth place.
For James Erkenbeck, who late Thursday was named a PING first-team All-American, and fellow seniors Benjamin Bauch and John Catlin the loss was as difficult for its significance as the last round in their Lobo careers as it was for falling just short of playing for a national title.
UNM’s splendid season included five tournament wins, as well as Mountain West and Columbus Regional titles. But late Friday, they weren’t yet ready to be in a reflective mood.
“I think all of us are still thinking about what we could’ve done differently today,” Erkenbeck said.
No. 3 Alabama 4, No. 6 UNM 1
- Gavin Green (1, UNM) d. Trey Mullinax (4, UA) 5 and 4 (five-hole lead with four to play)
- Cory Whitsett (2, UA) d. John Catlin (2, UNM) 5 and 4
- Bobby Wyatt (3, UA) d. Victor Perez (3, UNM) 2-up
- Justin Thomas (1, UA) d. James Erkenbeck (4, UNM) 4 and 3
- Scott Strohmeyer (5, UA) d. Benjamin Bauch (5, UNM) 4 and 3