Category Archives: Bronco Men’s Golf
NMMI Sports Press
It was two completely different 18-hole rounds at the inaugural Sonny Wiginton Intercollegiate Golf Tournament, held at the New Mexico Military Institute Golf Course on Sunday, Mar. 5th. The winds picked up dramatically for the second half of the 36-hole, 1-day competition, sending most scores, including the host team NMMI Broncos’, into the stratosphere.
“After the first 18, there were four teams tied at 284 and we were four shots back at 288,” explained head Bronco golf coach Andy Robertson. “Our second round came in at 304. We didn’t get it done, we needed one more good score and ended up finishing fifth. I thought the winds would be in our favor, but it ended up hurting the home team; why I don’t know,” continued coach.
Although disappointed with the afternoon team tally, coach Robertson was pleased with the performance of Peter Choi. Choi shot two-over par to finish in a three-way tie for seventh place in the individual portion of the tournament.
As a team going into the tournament on Sunday, NMMI was listed as 17th in the nation, but coach Robertson doesn’t think they’ll drop down in the rankings, since two of the teams ahead of NMMI were four-year schools, and because they finished ahead of ninth-ranked New Mexico Junior College.
Regardless of the new rankings, Robertson wants his team to focus on the next few weeks, which includes a tournament during NMMI’s scheduled Spring Break. “The next two weeks we have conference venues and hopefully we’ll get back to the 288 scores and do a little better,” he said.
Team Results: 1st, Midland College, 284-284—568; 2nd, Western New Mexico University, 284-287—571; 3rd, McLennan Community College, 284-291—575; 4th, Colorado School of Mines, 284-298—582; 5th, New Mexico Military Institute, 288-304—592; 6th, New Mexico Junior College, 296-302—598; 7th, Garden City Community College, 298-304—602.
NMMI Individual Results: T7, Peter Choi, 70-72—142; 26 T26, Lucas Bohannon, 74-75—149; T26, Paul Choi, 73-76—149; T32, Paul Montoya, 71-82—153; T 38, Arturo Quintero, 74-81—155; DNF, Deric Loving, 76-WD.
The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco golf team will be hosting the first annual Sonny Wiginton Intercollegiate Golf Tournament on Sunday, March 5 on their newly renovated home course with a 36-hole match teeing off with a shotgun start at 8:15 am. The course has been lengthened to over 7000 yards by extending ten tee-boxes and changing the course to a par-70. Holes 1 and 18 have been changed to par-4s. These changes will bring back the original course design to counter today’s big hitters and bring back into play the tree lines. The course won’t be as wide open as in the past and will require golfers to place a premium of keeping it in play more.
“Wiggs” as he was affectionately called by his friends and fellow colleagues led the NMMI Bronco golf program from 1989 until his retirement in 2002. In that time Coach Wiginton produced 13 NJCAA All-Americans and took 15 teams to the national championships. About half or so of the thirteen went on to become pro golfers including Norahito Sato, 90 All-American that played in the Masters and four times in the British Open. Gary Orr, 87 All-American played in the British Open several times with a best 41st place finish in 2000 and in the US Open with a 74th placing in 2001. Michael Krantz, 83 All-American also played in the Open and David Tasker went on to Texas A&M and is a professional golfer. With the program accomplishments, current Bronco golf coach Andy Robertson has recently nominated “Wiggs” for the NJCAA Hall of Fame posthumously as Sonny passed back in January 2015.
NMMI will be hosting six teams including conference foes NMJC, Midland and McLennan as well as Western New Mexico, Colorado School of Mines and Garden City out of Kansas. Several of these coaches competed against Coach Wiginton in the past and Coach Robertson added “these guys will be delighted that the tournament has been named in honor of their old friend. It will also give us a chance to see where we stand with some of our conference opponents. We play in the toughest conference in the country. It will usually produce the national champion about seven out of ten times. They take the top four teams from the conference and Midland, Odessa and NMJC are pretty solid so we are going to have to battle with McLennan, West Texas and Ranger for that last spot. We have beaten them this year but they have also beaten us so it going to be a real go-getter this season”.
Leading the Broncos are sophomores Paul Montoya, team captain from Rio Rancho, Lucas Bohannon from Albuquerque and the South African twins Peter and Paul Choi. Rounding out the squad that will be counted on for scoring will be Arturo Quintero of Venezuela whose game has improved ten-fold from last semester. Robertson mused on Quintero, “he would stay and work for so long that they almost had to call the NMMI police to get him off the driving range. His hard work and dedication has paid off as he was our top scorer at our last tournament in El Paso where we finished second. In the first semester his game just was not very good and really didn’t compete at all. Those are the kind of things coaches love to see, to see kids from out of nowhere and do well and stick with it. With him staying late and putting in the work has really turned things around for him.”
Playing as individuals for the Broncos will also be local Goddard grad Deric Loving and Alamogordo grad Edward Schlenshig.
Coach Wiginton also coached Bronco football as the offensive coordinator under Dwight Burns and Lefty Stecklein in the 1990’s when the program was revived at NMMI starting in 1992.
NMMI Sports Press
Twin brothers Peter and Paul Choi have verbally committed to play golf for Sterling College next season. The two college sophomores are both important members of a Bronco golf team that hopes to earn another appearance at this year’s NJCAA National Championships.
The Choi boys are Korean natives, but after age eight, grew up and learned to play golf in South Africa. Both came to the United States looking for an opportunity to play golf while earning their degrees. But initially, the twins chose different paths.
Peter came to NMMI as a freshman, after being recruited by former Bronco head coach Skip Gooch, while Paul decided to play for Dodge City Community College in Kansas.
Peter was impressive during his rookie season at NMMI, consistently posting the top scores and tournament finishes for a young and streaky Bronco men’s golf team. Paul, at DCCC, was perhaps even more impressive, helping the Conquistadors finish just three strokes short of a top-10 finish at last year’s JUCO championships.
Back together at NMMI for their sophomore seasons after a transfer by Paul last semester, the twin tandem have put the national spotlight again on NMMI golf: the Broncos are ranked No. 18 in the country as the start of the 2017 spring season begins.
But despite being twins, their golf games are actually quite different.
Peter says the best part of his game are his irons.
“My iron shots are good because I’ve got the rhythm and tempo down,” he said. “I used to swing really fast and my tempo and body harmony would just go out of control, but I practiced during the winter and now my iron shots are the most solid part of my game.”
Paul likes the driver.
“My driver is my favorite club because I never miss the fairway. I don’t hit very far but I keep it straight with a decent amount of distance.”
Both say they need to work on their putting, and mentioned a training routine that head coach Andy Robertson has them working on once a week, the dreaded “Pressure Tuesdays.”
“They have to make 10 three-footers, then eight 4-footers, and five 5-footers,” he explained. “If you miss, then you have to run to the cart barn and back, which is about 300 yards away. So instead of waiting until we get to a tournament at Midland College for pressure to be added to that three-foot putt, we put it on them right here.”
Peter and Paul both had high praise for their coach, one of the main reasons the brothers currently attend NMMI.
“Coach Robertson is a very organized person,” said Peter. “He teaches course management, how to practice, and how to continuously do this each and every day, without skipping steps. He values integrity; doing the right thing even when no one is looking. He teaches us to work hard and that what we put in is what we are going to get out.”
Paul echoed the organization part before adding his own thoughts.
“Out of all the coaches I’ve met, coach Robertson is definitely most organized. He just knows what he’s doing. He’s also been a football coach and coach in general for many years, so I feel he knows how to train people. Sometimes you have the knowledge, but you can’t teach it. But he can. He has a son and a daughter who both teach golf at NCAA D1 schools. I think teaching them was a big factor and he’s imparting that knowledge to us. He knows when to apply pressure, to try and teach us how to handle it, but he’s also good at getting us back on track, back into the comfort zone, when we need that.”
But Robertson wasn’t here to recruit Peter, and Paul left a JUCO program that qualified and competed at nationals, to come to NMMI. So how did two kids from Korea, by way of Africa, end up here at ‘Old Post’?
Peter’s answer will come as no surprise to anyone who has spent extended time here at Roswell’s ‘West Point of the West’, whether as a cadet, faculty-staff member or parent.
“I chose NMMI because they have a really good education system,” he said. “When I searched online for the best junior colleges, NMMI was there. I really like the teachers here – many of them have master’s and PhDs. Also, coach Gooch was kind enough to offer me a scholarship to come here and play golf and I am grateful for that opportunity.”
Paul agreed with the quality of an NMMI education before remarking on his concern over credit transfers from one institution to another.
“One of the most important reasons for coming to NMMI was because the credits I earn here will transfer to all schools. Because NMMI is hard, people acknowledge the school and honor the school. It feels like this school puts you up to another level.”
So now you know you why NMMI. It’s about ‘opportunity’ and ‘honor’ – if you’d like to condense the Chois’ statements into one word each.
So the next logical question is why Sterling College?
“I chose Sterling College because it’s a small school and they have a good pre-med program, said Peter. “I want to study chiropractics and they have the classes I need to get into that field.”
“Pretty much the same reasons as my brother,” agreed Paul. “I would also add that I think the small class sizes will make it easier to learn. Both of us got good offers from the school. I want to pursue my dream as a top-class golf professional, but at the same time, I want to pursue my chiropractic degree.”
“We try to bring in good players, that will play good for us and get us national rankings,” said coach Robertson. “Then hopefully, they will help themselves and help their families so they don’t have to pay for further education in the final two years when they leave NMMI. That’s what our program is all about. I admire the way Peter and Paul approach both academics and golf, with great effort and a great mindset. I’m so proud of them and I know that they’re going to do a good job at Sterling College.”
NMMI Sports Press
The college golf season is still a few months away, but the Bronco golfers can enjoy their winter break knowing they’ve got a solid squad headed into the spring season.
The final fall rankings show NMMI sitting at No. 13 (Golfstat) as a team with three individuals in the top 100: freshman Ricky Silva at 23; sophomore and team captain Paul Montoya 64th; and freshman Caleb Morton 84th.
“We had a nice fall,” said coach Andy Robertson. “Things really went well and we’re looking forward to the spring.”
The Broncos played in three tournaments (the fourth was rained out) with some really exciting moments at the WJCAC Tournament in mid October.
“When we were in Denver City, I walked out on the patio between 18s, and I looked up and NMMI was beating Midland and New Mexico Junior College,” Robertson said. “I almost had a heart attack. I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness!’ Then the second 18 they caught up to us and we took third. But still, Ricky Silva was the medalist in that tournament with 67-68.”
“Last tournament we actually got really close to beating Midland and NMJC, so that’s pretty cool,” Silva agreed.
“We did good enough to almost beat two of the top schools, Midland and NMJC, who we’ve been in competition for a long time,” Montoya said. “They just ended up beating us, but we were close. That was a good feeling.”
Silva comes to NMMI from Socorro High School, where he golfed for the Warriors, finishing in the top five at the state A-AAAA meet three times and top 15th two other times. While he said the ranking “feels good,” his goal is to continue to get better, getting his scoring average (72.5) to par or lower.
Montoya, who was ranked in 2016, has similar goals.
“Where I am now is not bad for a start. I can only hope to progress,” he said. As for the team, “The goals for the team is to just keep getting better and try to beat those top schools and get ourselves to nationals. That’s all we hope for. Myself, I want to get my ranking even higher and my scoring average (74.8) even better and help my team get to my goal.”
Morton is another freshman, who came to NMMI from just down the road in Artesia, where he was a three-time all-state player in AAAAA.
“It’s a change,” he said of the transition from high school to juco golf. “I know the golf courses around here real well. The structure here at NMMI is a little different. College golf is a lot different; a lot more competition. You can’t just go out and hack it around and be in the top 10.”
He said he was surprised to even be ranked — he only played in two tourneys — but also wants to move up in the rankings.
“I played good enough,” he said. “It’s somewhere I want to be. We all hope to improve in the spring and just keep working hard.”
The Western Junior College Athletic Conference may be the toughest JC conference around, with Odessa ranked No. 2; Midland 3; NMJC 7; and Western Texas 9. Last season, the Broncos had a tough time beating any of those teams, but Robertson thinks this year will be different.
“We’re beating people from the good schools, so it shows,” he said.
Most of the Bronco spring sports prepare for their seasons with tournaments in the fall, and the NMMI golf team is starting out against some of the top teams in the nation.
At the High Country Shootout at the Links at Sierra Blanca in Ruidoso Sept. 24-25, the Broncos will face off against five Top-10 teams, another five in the top 20 and one at 22.
While NMMI is ranked at 24 in the NJCAA pre-season poll, new head coach Andy Robertson is firing his team up.
“You want to climb in the rankings and be noticed?” he posted on the wall of the clubhouse. “No better time or place.”
Teams competing in the fall tourney include No. 1 Midland; McClendon (2); Odessa (5); West Texas (6); Pima (8); Dodge City (11); Eastern Arizona (12); New Mexico JC (17); Garden City (18); Spartanburg Methodist (20); Ranger (22); and unranked Mesa and UTEP, a DI school.
“We’re stepping into the fire with both feet, and we’re doing that right away,” Robertson said. “We’re probably going to see these teams again in October at the National Preview Tournament. So we’ll know as soon as we come back from Ruidoso where we stand and what we’ve got to get done to compete.”
That National Preview tourney is two weeks later in Garden City, Kans., then the Broncos will compete at the Conference Tournament in Denver City, Texas, Oct. 19, and close out the fall season in Odessa Nov. 4.
NMMI has five returning sophomores on the squad, as well as four new freshmen, so Robertson has good reason to feel confident in his team.