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Four more solid individual scores and Minnesota seems like seven years ago.
A couple of weeks back, the University of New Mexico men’s golf team teed off its season in Minneapolis at the Golden Gopher Invitational, and it wasn’t pretty.
The Lobos opened with two horrendous rounds before closing with the second-best final round, which left them in a three-way tie for 11th in the 15-team field.
That was then.
On Saturday, the Lobos closed with their worst score of the 61st-annual William H. Tucker Intercollegiate at the UNM Championship Golf Course.
And that round was still the best round of the day as the Lobos ran away with their fourth straight title in the tournament. No team has won four straight Tuckers since Houston won its 10th straight in 1966.
New Mexico closed with a 3-under 285 for a 24-under 840 to smash the 16-team field. Texas Tech was second at 5 under and UNLV tied Colorado State for third at 4 over. San Diego State was fifth at 8 over.
New Mexico State was eighth at 23 over.
Meanwhile, UNM junior Andrej Bevins, who tied for the individual crown before losing to teammate Gavin Green in a playoff in 2013, this time got his cake and ate it, too, including the icing on top of it. Bevins had rounds of 68-68 on Friday to share the lead, then closed with a 70 on Saturday to take the outright title with a 10-under 206 — two shots better than UNLV’s AJ McInerney (70-70-68). UNM’s Gustavo Morantes (66-71-72) had two late birdies to tie San Diego’s Alex Chiarella (68-68-73) for third at 7 under.
“It’s good to get that Minnesota tournament behind us and get that bad tournament out of the way,” Bevins said. “It does seem like a long time ago now.”
Bevins, playing five holes in front of Chiarella (there was a shotgun start, meaning all players started simultaneously on different holes) and in the same group as McInerney, made bogey on the 377-yard par 4 17th by 3-putting, leaving him with a one-shot lead over Chiarella and McInerney heading to the final hole.
“I got lucky,” Bevins said, “because I saw the scoreboard right then and I knew I was just a shot ahead, but I figured all I needed to do was make birdie on (the par-5) 18 to win it. (Chiarella) was on (the par 3) No. 3, and if I just make birdie, he’d have to ace it or AJ would have to make eagle on 18.”
Bevins smacked a 3-wood off the tee and stuck a sweet 5-iron 25 feet from the pin. He needed a 2-putt to at least tie, as McInerney had a chance for birdie. But Bevins went out in style, burying the 25-footer for an eagle.
“That felt great,” Bevins said. “I didn’t want anything to do with a playoff this time.. To win individually, and for our team to win and play like this — it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Bevins and UNM coach Glen Millican, who was on the green, both pumped their fists.
“I’m just so happy for Andrej,” Millican said. “He’s such a good kid and he works so hard. He had such a tough week in Minnesota, finishing 72nd and shooting two rounds in the 80s. He took that personally.”
UNM sophomore Andre Garcia (73-67-74) and freshman Sam Kim (73-70-71) tied for 11th at 2 under. Senior teammate Joseph Abella (72-72-72) tied for 14th.
The top four individual scores count towards the team total each round. Only Texas Tech’s second round 285 equalled any of the Lobos’ three outstanding rounds.
“It’s great to win, no matter how,” Millican said. “But every leader board they went by, it never got closer than 12, 14 or 15 shots. Yet they continued to play welk.”
The Lobos also had four individuals in the field: Sean Carlon (73-73-77) tied for 34th, Benjamin Tolsma (75-71-78) tied for 39th, Isaac Alderette (75-80-79) tied for 81st and Mark MacGrath (78-76-84) tied for 89th.
The Aggies have three New Mexico prep players: Hobbs’ Kenneth Fadke (218, 20th), Las Cruces Onate’s Isaac Merry (227, T49) and Las Cruces’ Davis Chung 231, T71).