Watkins in Second as Lobos Begin NCAA Championship

Watkins in Second as Lobos Begin NCAA Championship

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. –– The New Mexico men’s golf team opened play at the 2023 NCAA Championship on Friday with the first round at Grayhawk Golf Club. The Lobos shot 13-over during the opening round and are in 25th place in the 30-team field after 18 holes.

Highlighting the day for the Lobos was Matthew Watkins, who shot a 4-under round of 66 and is T-2nd on the individual leaderboard. Among his six birdies on his round was a chip-in on the par-3 No. 8 on his next-to-last hole of the day. He is two shots off the individual lead of the tournament after 18 holes.

“Matt played well all day,” said head coach Glen Millican. “He had that spectacular chip-in on No. 8, but other than that he just played solid. He hit some good wedge shots to get some good looks at birdie. The couple of times he got out of position, he did a good job of recovering to have a chance to make par.”

Bastien Amat shot a 2-over 72 for the Lobos on Friday, while Carson Herron shot 77 and Brandon Shong shot 78. Albert Boneta rounded out the lineup with a first-round 79.

“We were alright with a few holes to go, but we gave up some shots coming in,” said Millican. “We had three guys struggle, so we had to count two of them. But this was the first time we have seen this place and we will learn from it. Even though we played early, the course was pretty firm and we had some wind. We will likely have similar conditions tomorrow afternoon, so we just have to be ready for it and do a little better job. When the course is playing tough like this, you can shoot some high scores, but you can also move up the leaderboard pretty quickly if you play solid and manage mistakes. We learned that today. Matt and Bastien kept us in the mix and we still have a lot of opportunities with lots of golf left to play.”

The Lobos will play the second round of the NCAA Championship on Saturday afternoon, as each school will play in the opposite wave (morning/afternoon) as it did in the first round. The third round will be Sunday before the field will be cut in half for the fourth and final round of stroke play on Monday. The top eight teams from stroke play will advance to match play, which will crown the national champion. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be Tuesday and the final will be Wednesday. Golf Channel will televise the action live for the final three days (Monday-Wednesday).