Lobos in the hunt for Tucker golf title - Albuquerque Journal

Lobos in the hunt for Tucker golf title

Assistant coach Sean Carlon (right) watches as UNM’s Matthew Watkins (left), and Brandon Shong line up their putts during the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate at the UNM Championship Golf Course. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

University of New Mexico golfer Albert Boneta missed most of last season with a mysterious injury to his right wrist.

But any lingering rust from his absence from the course was hard to see as he fired a 7-under 65 in Friday’s second round of the William H. Tucker tournament at the UNM Championship Golf Course.

Coupled with his even par 72 in the day’s opening round, Boneta is tied with TCU’s Aymeric Laussot, both sitting one stroke behind individual leader Caden Fioroni of UNLV, who shot a 67-69 for an 8-under 136.

“I couldn’t play for eight months,” Boneta said. “This is my third tournament post-injury. Seeing everyone play and staying home and not being able to do anything, just putt, was pretty boring and frustrating.”

As for his ailment, well, “that’s a good question,” the senior from Barcelona, Spain, said. “We’re still trying to figure that out.”

There is no question that he lit up the course in the afternoon, playing bogey-free golf with five birdies and an eagle on the 575-yard, par-5 No. 14.

“Albert, he’s a great player,” Lobos coach Glen Millican said. “He’s shown in the time he’s been here that he can as good as anyone in the country. He had some time off because he had an injury last year so it’s nice to see him getting back into it.”

Sparked by Boneta and Brandon Shong, who shot a 5-under 67 in the afternoon, the Lobos surged into second place overall with a 12-under 564, five strokes behind leader San Diego State.

UNM’s Brandon Shong tees off during Friday’s second round. (Mike Sandoval/For the Journal)

New Mexico State is tied for eighth at 10-over 586.

“Albert shooting seven under gets you going pretty quick, and Brandon played great,” Millican said. “Having a 7 and 5 in the same round is great. Obviously, we made less mistakes as a team, but it’s two different courses in the morning and the afternoon. They just did a good job of hanging in there.”

With tournament play in shotgun format, UNM started off in the middle of the course, so that makes things a bit more difficult, he said.

“We did start on some of the harder holes in this tournament, so you can get off to kind of a slow start if you don’t play pretty good. We just had to hang in there and wait for the scoreable part of the course to come and they did a good job of that.”

For Shong, his whole day was predicated on making up for an uncharacteristic quadruple-bogey 8 in the morning on No 2. To finish that round only 2-over was a feat in of itself.

“This afternoon, my tee shots were better,” he said. “In the morning I was pretty wayward. This tournament is pretty important. It’s our home tournament so you want to do well and give yourself a good chance and give the supporters a good show.”

The Aggies’ Garrison Smith put on a good show, as his 3-under 141 leaves him tied for 11th with Shong.

His afternoon round included eagles on 15 and 18 when he was able to drain long on each green.

“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “That kept my momentum going. I wasn’t over par too long (Friday), which always makes golf more fun. I dug down deep and thankfully I made some good putts and made some good chips and I had a positive attitude all day and I credit that to my success on the course.”

(Click here for individual scores, here for team scores.)

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