The UTEP Men’s Golf Team will make the short drive up Interstate 10 to compete in the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate, hosted by NM State, October 16 and 17 in Las Cruces.
Play at the NMSU Golf Course (par 71/ 7,242 yards) will begin with 36 holes on Monday and finish with the final 18 on Tuesday. It will mark the first of the final two fall tournaments for the Miners, with the last being their own Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational slated for Oct. 20-22.
“The conditions are identical to what we play and practice in everyday, so there’s no adjustment there, we know the golf course very well,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “We’re excited about coming home, the last two courses that we’ve played, up at UNM (University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course) and Erin Hills were both very difficult. I think for us right now, New Mexico State and our tournament [Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational], the last two of fall, are going to be much more score-able, which I think is something that our guys are looking forward to.”
The Miners will join the 12-team field which consists of host NM State, Abilene Christian, reigning tournament champion Grand Canyon, Incarnate Word, McMurry University, Odessa JC, Oral Roberts, UTEP, UTRGV, Western Illinois, Western New Mexico and Wichita State.
At last season’s Herb Wimberly, UTEP finished in second place after posting one-under-par 851 (286-286-279). Grand Canyon won the title after firing a 15-under-par 837 (277-280-280).
“I think this could be an extremely pivotal tournament for our entire season, that if we can play and finish high here and finish first or second, and then turnaround and parlay that into a strong finish at our home tournament, that’ll really help our fall [season] and send us off on the right note,” Lieberwirth said.
A familiar core will make up the UTEP line-up in seniors Charles Corner, Nicklas Pihl and Prescott Mann, as well as juniors Aaron Terrazas and Settavut Paradee, and sophomore Ricardo Catalan, while new weapons in Eduardo Gonzalez and transfer Santiago Castilla will make their debut.
The Miners have seen consistent play from Terrazas, who is coming off a top-20 finish at the competitive Marquette Intercollegiate. The junior put together three strong rounds at the Erin Hills Golf Course, site of the US Open in June (par 72/7,722 yards), for a share of 12th place with 3-over 219 (70-76-73).
Corner, Pihl and Mann will be no strangers to the NMSU Golf Course. At last season’s tournament, Corner tied for seventh after shooting even-par 213 (72-68-73), Pihl finished with a share of 37th after an 8-over 221 (73-76-72) showing and Mann shot an 11-over-par 224 (73-77-74) to tie for 45th. Both Pihl and Mann have been UTEP’s top-finisher at least once this season.
Paradee also has a top finish for his team this season, as he joined Mann in pacing the Miners in his share of 13th place at the Gene Miranda Invitational after firing a tournament total of 4-under 212 .
“If we get back to doing the things we know how to do, hitting fairways, hitting greens, being smart, managing our ball properly around the golf course, leaving ourselves in good positions, stuff like that, where we do well, that’s our strength,” Lieberwirth said. “That’s what’s going to allow us to finish really high in the field in tournaments. When you get to the more difficult courses, that’s easier said than done. We’re going back to a more score-able course now, so that should be easier to do.”
For Lieberwirth, the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate is almost like a second home tournament for his team. Lieberwirth spent eight years as NM State’s head golf coach before being named UTEP’s head coach in 2011.
“With my experience up there [NM State], I can pass some of the finer points off to our players that I feel gives us an advantage over the other visiting teams,” Lieberwirth said.
“But at the end of the day, it’s going to boil down to execution. I think in the last week we’ve done a little bit of a better job in that, but come tournament time, that’s what’s going to separate us from winning or not winning. I think from a talent perspective, we’ve got no problem in that category. We’ve got plenty of talent, our guys have all the ability in the world to play and finish these next two tournaments well.”
Live scoring will be available via golfstat.com.