'We're right in position': UNM men close opening round of NCAA regional in fifth place

May 13—Led by Albert Boneta Jr. and Bastien Amat's pair of one-under 71s, the New Mexico men's golf team shot a two-over 290 to close the opening round of the West Lafayette (Indiana) Regional in fifth place out of 13 teams.

Vanderbilt (-11), Arizona (-5), Purdue (-4) and Florida (+1) all finished ahead of the fourth-seeded Lobos on Monday at Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex. Mountain West rivals Colorado State (+9) and San Diego State (+10) tied for sixth and eighth place, respectively.

"It was a struggle out there at times, but the guys played great," UNM golf coach and new Mountain West Coach of the Year Jake Harrington said Monday. "We could've made some more putts but the guys played solid, and we're right in position where we need to be. Bastien had a great ball-striking day (and) Albert had a great two-putt to finish the round, so we're right in position."

Boneta recorded four birdies, and Amat — recently named the Mountain West Golfer of the Year — birdied three to both tie for eighth place. Connor Adams' even-par 72 was good enough to keep him in the top 20; Matthew Watkins (+4) and Carson Herron (+7) closed the opening round in 48th and 65th place, respectively.

Wisconsin's Cameron Huss is the sole leader atop the individual leaderboard after posting a six-under 66. Vanderbilt's Gordon Sargent (-5) is in second while fellow Commodore Cole Sherwood and Arizona's Johnny Walker are tied for third at three-under.

The five lowest-scoring teams from each regional will advance to the national championships at Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. With rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, Harrington said the Lobos' day one finish was "huge" to keep them in contention.

"Especially with the weather coming in tomorrow, you never know what's gonna happen," he said. "So to be in the top five, to be (going out first) in the morning, it's a big deal for us."

In Harrington's first season at the helm, the Lobos have notched victories in the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate in Albuquerque and the National Invitational Tournament in Tucson, Arizona, with four runner-up finishes on their way to their fifth NCAA Regional appearance.

UNM has previously advanced to the NCAA finals 43 times in program history. The West Lafayette Regional continues Tuesday with a final round set for Wednesday.