So far, so good for senior Gavin Green and the University of New Mexico men’s golf team in their quest to set multiple records at the 60th annual William H. Tucker Intercollegiate golf tournament.
Green, the two-time individual champion, fired the day’s low round of 7-under 65 on Friday morning before shooting a 70 in the afternoon at the UNM Championship Golf Course.
He has a one-shot lead over San Diego State’s Xander Schauffele for the individual lead at 9-under 135. Schauffele shot rounds of 67-69 for a 136.
The Lobos, meanwhile, are trying to win the event for the third straight year – something they have never done. They are at 22-under 554 after Friday’s two rounds and hold a fat 15-shot lead against San Diego State in the 15-team field. The Aztecs had rounds of 280-289 for a 7 under, while Texas Tech went 283-288 and is third at 5 under. No other team is under par.
The final round of the 54-hole event is today with an 8 a.m. shotgun start.
“I’m very happy with the way we played,” said UNM coach Glen Millican. “When you play two rounds in one day like that, the afternoon gets tough. It’s a long day and the course gets firmer. But it was nice to back up the morning round with another solid one like that.”
Led by Green, the Lobos shot a blazing 11-under 277 in the morning and equaled that number in the afternoon.
Green, meanwhile, is trying to become the first three-time individual winner of the tournament, and is attempting to become the first golfer in school history to win six career events. He captured four last season, which tied ex-Lobo Tim Herron for the most wins in a season, and is tied with Herron for the most in a career with five.
“I definitely felt some extra pressure, especially at the start,” Green said. “But I just told myself to relax. I have high expectations for myself. Obviously, I want to win. But at the same time, I want to make sure I just play well.”
Green said he’s fully aware that nobody has ever won the Tucker three times – and the event’s list of winners includes Tiger Woods, Bobby Clampett, Johnny Miller and Herron – “but that’s not something I’ll be thinking about (today). I just want to get myself good looks and try to make more putts than I did in the second round.”
The top four scores on each five-player team count toward each round’s team total.
UNM had plenty of balance Friday with senior Victor Perez shooting 69 in the early round before struggling to a 79 in the afternoon. He is tied for 34th overall at 4 over.
But Perez’s teammates all came up big on the second 18. Senior Sam Saunders (72-68) and sophomore Andrej Bevins (72-68) are tied for fifth overall at 4 under, while junior Nelson da Silva Ramos (71-71) is tied for ninth at 2 under.
Bevins tied Green for last year’s title, but lost in a playoff. Officially, it still counted as a tournament victory by the NCAA.
Saunders had a three-putt bogey on his 15th hole in the afternoon round (No. 16) but birdied his final two holes. Saunders and Bevins more than offset Perez’s second round.
“Victor’s a great player and has played so many big rounds for us,” Saunders said. “But you know he can’t play great every round, and it was important that we had some good balance. It’s really encouraging that we all played so well.”
Saunders’ former La Cueva High teammate, Patrick Beyhan, a senior at New Mexico State, had a pair of 74s and is tied for 34th. Hobbs’ Kenneth Fadke, a junior at NMSU, is tied for 10th at 1 under.
Brett Walker (72-69) leads the Aggies at 3 under and is tied for seventh. The Aggies are in fourth at 5 over.
A pair of Texas Tech players – Guillermo Pereira and Clement Sordet – are tied for third at 6 under.
The top four teams – the Lobos, Aztecs, Red Raiders and Aggies – all play in the same groups today.