New Mexico looks to continue winning start in Iowa

New Mexico's Gavin Green

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BURLINGTON, Iowa – New Mexico opened its season with a victory for the first time since 2002, winning the Gopher Invitational last weekend.

Now the Lobos enter the Golfweek Conference Challenge looking to start the season with back-to-back victories for the first time since 2001, Glen Millican’s inaugural year as head coach.

“That’d be a great way to start,” Millican said. “It’s been a good start so far, and if we could play well here and navigate this golf course somehow, it’d be an awesome way to back up our win.”

New Mexico, ranked No. 14 in Golfweek's preseason rankings, is one of 15 teams – from 15 different conferences – in the field for the fifth-year event, which runs Sunday-Tuesday at the par-72, 7,301-yard Spirit Hollow Golf Course.

Preseason top-20 teams LSU, Houston and Oklahoma top the field as well. Also participating are Arizona, Central Arkansas, Iowa, Texas State, Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville State, Chattanooga, Virginia Tech, Louisiana Tech, Ball State and Winthrop.

The Lobos advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship last spring, but lost three starters from that squad, including first-team All-American James Erkenbeck.

Millican believes this team might be deeper, though, in the sense that the internal competition has increased. Behind experienced juniors Gavin Green and Victor Perez, both returning starters, there is junior Sean Romero, sophomore Joseph Abella and freshman Andrej Bevins, who tied for 13th at the Gopher Invitational. All will make their second starts of the season at Spirit Hollow.

“We may be a little deeper than we were last year, but that was a special team last year,” Millican said. “They put together, statistically, the best season we’ve had at New Mexico. To better that would be almost unheard of, but you never know what could happen.”

LSU, ranked ninth in Golfweek's preseason rankings, is competing in this event for the first time. The Tigers finished third in their season opener, the Carpet Capital Collegiate, behind Georgia Tech and Georgia.

“The golf course is great, a very well rounded golf course,” LSU head coach Chuck Winstead said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

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