Story by Lance Ringler
EL PASO, Texas (Nov. 9, 2014) — Gavin Green might be hoping for some sort of future pay-for-play event to be held at El Paso Country Club.
The University of New Mexico senior won rather convincingly to defend his title at the Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic. Green becomes just the second player in the event’s 40-year history to repeat as tournament champion. Clemson’s Chris Patton won the event in 1988-89.
“I don’t think it’s kicked in yet, but I know it will pretty soon," Green said. "Winning it once is unbelievable especially with all of the names that have won and winning it twice and in a row – I have nothing to say. It’s just unbelievable."
Hopes of a repeat got off to a shaky start. Early in the opening round on Friday, Green was standing on No. 4 tee at 3 over after a double bogey on the par-3 third hole. Another bogey on the seventh hole, coupled with a pair of birdies had Green at 2 over after his first nine holes.
“I knew it was a long day and a lot of things can happen within 36 holes," said Green, who entered the event ranked No. 13 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. "I knew if I kept giving myself looks and chances, putts would drop and I’m pretty fortunate it did."
He would finish his opening 18 holes with consecutive birdies on No. 16-17 to finish at even-par 71. It was during the second round when Green would heat up, or in his words: “Get the party started.”
Green turned in a seven-birdie, one-eagle performance Saturday to post a 9-under 62 and share the low 18-hole tournament round with Florida’s Billy Horschel (2006), Vanderbilt’s Luke List (2006) and Wake Forest’s Webb Simpson (2007).
The senior from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, would finish 36 holes at 9 under for a two-shot lead entering the final round. The final 18 holes had the promise of a showdown, pitting Green against Rico Hoey, a talented sophomore from USC.
Hoey, paired with Green, climbed to a share of the lead after going 3 under in his first four holes. The two shared the lead after four holes. However, Hoey struggled to finish the front nine in contention and Green started to pull away midway through the round.
“I think this is just his course,” Hoey said. “I had a couple of bad holes and he did what he needed to.”
Hoey, who entered the event ranked No. 66 by Golfweek, tied for second with UCLA’s Jonathan Garrick at 7-under 206. First-round leader Ryan Zech of Missouri, who was paired with Green and Hoey, tied for sixth at 5-under 208.
“It’s cool knowing that I had a rough day today that I can keep up and hang on with these great players,” Hoey said. “This is a confidence booster and there is a lot of room to improve.”
For Green, the confidence may not show in his easy-going, relaxed demeanor, but it was on full display deeper in the round as he continued to overpower the par 5s, making birdies on the final two long holes, and put the ball in the proper spots on tricky El Paso Country Club putting surfaces.
Green had a comfortable lead, but admits to not being comfortable until a birdie on the 16th hole.
"Then I was pretty sure,” Green said.
They often say there is never a sure thing in golf, but Green and El Paso Country Club are pretty close.
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