NCAA Golf: Texas, NMSU coaches feel right at home at Regional - Albuquerque Journal

NCAA Golf: Texas, NMSU coaches feel right at home at Regional

University of Texas women’s golf coach Ryan Murphy reads a green during the 2022 NCAA Women’s Golf Regional being played at the UNM Championship Course in Albuquerque. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

The University of Texas women’s golf team ate at El Pinto on Monday night.

Frontier is on tap for breakfast on Wednesday.

Head coach Ryan Murphy knows Albuquerque well, after all, and hitting up all the good restaurants is just part of the bonus.

As he and his team pulled up to the UNM Championship Golf Course for this week’s three-day, NCAA Albuquerque Women’s Golf Regional, he feels at home.

Murphy, who has coached at Texas since 2008 and since 2014 as head coach, is a Lovington High graduate who became a Lobo golf standout under coach John Fields (coincidently now the head men’s coach at Texas) from 1994-97. Murphy was later an assistant coach at UNM from 2001-05.

So, he not only knows Albuquerque well, but also the course on which he’s trying to help guide his Longhorns to a top-four finish that would advance them to the NCAA Women’s Championships from May 20-25 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

New Mexico State’s Amelia McKee tees off at hole 10 during the 2022 NCAA Albuquerque Regional women’s golf round 1 at the UNM Championship Course in Albuquerque on May 9, 2022. (Chancey Bush/ Albuquerque Journal)

“I’m as familiar with this course as anybody, but that doesn’t make it easy,” Murphy said. “This golf course has stood up since it started in 1966. This is a real test. And I can know it as good as the back of my hand, but you’ve still got to be able to execute on this golf course and you’ve got to be able to putt these greens. You’ve got to try and hit certain spots and be able to putt these greens. It comes down to execution.”

His Longhorns fired a second-round 2-over 290 on Tuesday to drop from second to third in the team standings at 1-over – still comfortably in the coveted top four spots needed for advancement.

Oregon (8-under) is the leader followed by Georgia (even) and Texas. TCU (7-over) and Florida (8-over) enter Wednesday’s final round battling for that fourth spot with two teams tied for sixth at 12-over in the 12-team field.

Murphy’s close ties to the program remain – University of New Mexico men’s coach Glenn Millican was the best man in his wedding, and he talks regularly with UNM women’s coach Jill Trujillo, including ahead of this week’s competition. But there’s only so much about golf his team really wants to hear about.

Where’s the good stuff? The juicy cherry and silver UNM college stories that are burned in the memory banks like the burnt orange memories his Longhorn players are making now going to school in Austin?

“My players are asking me that question in the (ride from the hotel) every day, and I’m like there’s a statute of limitations on things I can disclose,” Murphy said.

“I had fun in college. We’ll leave it at that.”

He’s not the only coach with local ties in this regional.

New Mexico State, the automatic qualifier as Western Athletic Conference champion, is in 11th at 30-over par.

Their coach, Danny Bowen, has plenty of familiarity with the course and with Albuquerque himself.

The Eldorado High graduate, and 2002 Class 5A high school state individual champion, says he thinks familiarity – his own and his team playing in Albuquerque each year – helps around the greens and with being ready for the wind and weather.

Nevertheless, the Aggies have struggled so far in the event, following Monday’s 14-over with a 16-over on Tuesday and sit in 11th in the 12-team field at 30-over-par heading into final round action.

“It was a little rough today. We didn’t get off to a good start and we finished bad, but there was a little bit of good golf in the middle,” Bowen said. “They did plenty of things well today, we just couldn’t stay away from the big scores. We made a couple of bogeys that just really killed our momentum.”

Georgia’s LoraLie Cowart tees off during the 2022 NCAA Women’s Golf Regional at the UNM Championship Course in Albuquerque on Monday. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

NOTES: Lobos Napat “Jenny” Lertsadwattana (-1) and Lauren Lehigh (+1) are both within range to qualify as individuals. The top two individual finishers not on the top four qualifying teams also advance. The top golfer on a team outside the top four after Tuesday was Florida’s Marina Escobar Domingo (-4) with Lertsadwattana and Sam Houston’s next on the list at -1.

• Oregon’s Briana Chacon (-10) remains the individual leader through two rounds. Georgia’s Jenny Bae (-7) remained in second. The pair were among five golfers who shot 3-under 69s Tuesday.

• The best day-over-day score improvement was Georgia freshman LoraLie Cowart, who improved by seven strokes from Monday’s 80 to a 73 on Tuesday. Her two-round plus-9 has her in a tie for 49th.

• Sam Houston jumped from 10th at the beginning of Tuesday’s round to a tie with Arizona for sixth place after the round. Sam Houston shot a second round 2-under 286 and sits at 12-over, 588 overall.

NCAA GOLF: Albuquerque Regional

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