The University of New Mexico Lobos men’s golf team showed flashes of brilliance during its own 62nd William H. Tucker Intercollegiate this week at the UNM Championship Golf Course.
But not a whole lot during Saturday’s third and final round.
The Lobos, who shot 6-under 282 in Friday morning’s opening round before a choppy 301 in the afternoon’s second round, fell apart early on Saturday.
And while the Lobos closed with a flurry in the final holes, they never made a run at the title they have owned the past four years. UNM closed with an 11-over 299 and tied Colorado for fifth in the 16-team event at 18 over.
San Diego State, which entered the day with an eight-shot lead over second-place Colorado State and 10 up on third-place UNM, opened the door Saturday but still had plenty to win the title at 1-under par 863. The Aztecs shot rounds of 280-293-290.
CSU was second at 9 over. Brigham Young third at 14 over and Washington fourth at 15 over.
Individually, the guy with a PGA Tour pro’s name — CSU’s Blake Cannon — played like a PGA Tour pro much of the weekend and won the title at 6-under 210. He had rounds of 71-69-70 on the par-72 course.
San Diego State junior PJ Samiere was second at 4 under.
“Blake played great today; he just outplayed me,” Samiere said. “But this is about the team, and we showed how we’re capable of playing. I think we could really do some big things this season.”
Washington’s Corey Pereira, SDSU’s Blake Abercrombie and UNLV’s Shintaro Ban tied for third at 2 under.
UNM sophomore Sean Carlon, a graduate of Albuquerque’s Hope Christian High, birdied his final hole to finish even-par for the event and tied for eighth.
“I’m happy with my round today, but the team is the most important thing to me,” Carlon said. “To see them struggle, means I struggled. It hurts. It’s hard because it’s such a team aspect.”
For much of the day, the Lobos were in the running for the day’s worst score — falling to 18-over par for the round at one time. But they were able to pick up seven birdies without a bogey late to show what they are capable of doing.
“I set this golf course up the last day to penalize careless mistakes,” said UNM coach Glen Millican. “And we made a few of those early and got off to a real bad start. And we let that carry over too long. We had a real good finish, which is a positive. But there’s a lot of learning opportunities coming from this event.”
The top four scores count toward each five-player team total each round. The Lobos’ other scores were: Andre Garcia (66-77-78, 5 over) tied for 19th; Andrej Bevins (72-78-75, 9 over) tied for 34th; Sam Kim (77-73-76, 10 over) tied for 42nd and Gustavo Morantes (73-80-76, 13 over) tied for 58th.
Bevins, a senior, has won the Tucker twice, and Morantes is the team’s No. 1 player.
Garcia had the individual lead after the first round.
“It just sucks when the whole team plays bad, but you can’t really think about that while you’re playing,” Garcia said of Saturday’s round. “You still have to just focus on every shot.
“We all had some positives, and we know we have a lot of talent. It’s a matter of gaining experience. Sometimes, you just have to go through it to learn it. We have to learn from the bad.”
TOP GUNN: San Diego State senior Gunn Yang has already had incredible success in his young career — such as his victory at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship.
But his best shot?
That came on the same course he played this week in the Tucker — the UNM Championship.
“No doubt,” said Yang, who is from Pyeong Chang, South Korea, and graduated from Torrey Pines (Calif.) High.
He was part of the Aztecs team that tied Texas A&M for fifth at the NCAA Albuquerque Regional in May. The top five teams advanced to the NCAA Championships, thus SDSU and A&M headed to a playoff.
Yang hit his drive in the right rough on the first hole of sudden death — the par 5 No. 1 hole. He then hit a 7-iron from 220 yards out — and in.
The double eagle helped the Aztecs into the NCAA Championships.
On Friday and Saturday, he started his rounds on No. 2. Meaning, as fate would have it, No. 1 would be his closing hole each round.
Was he thinking about his albatross?
“Maybe a little, but really I was just thinking about trying to hit it in the fairway this time,” Yang said, with a laugh, of his first time back on the hole since his legendary shot. “Then I pulled it into the hazard.”
Yang still saved par on the hole and made another par on it the next time around.
On Saturday, Yang birdied it. He finished 12th at 2 over.
… UNLV, coached by former Lobo golfer and golf coach Dwaine Knight, finished seventh at 20 over. “It’s always nice coming back to Albuquerque,” said Knight, whose mother still lives here. “This is a special, special place.”
… Pat Beyhan, a former La Cueva High and NMSU standout and PGA Tour Canada player, is back with the Aggies as a graduate assistant.
… Former Lobo Nick Geyer is in his second year as an assistant coach for the University of San Diego. “I love doing this,” Geyer said. “We didn’t play well this week, but hopefully we’re going to have a good season.”