Sights set high for young MU men's golf team

Friday, August 27, 2010 | 8:15 p.m. CDT

 COLUMBIA - Confidence is riding high on the Missouri men’s golf team after finishing sixth in the Big 12 last season and earning their third trip to regionals in the past six years.

Add that to the fact that the team did not lose any players to graduation last year and there is good reason for the team to be optimistic this season.

“We had a pretty good year last year. The guys won a few tournaments and we had a few guys win individually,” head coach Mark Leroux said. “We think we’ve added some kids as freshman and transfers that can help us, so it’s going to be competitive.”

The team is still relatively young, as they only have one senior on the 13-man squad, but that didn’t stop Leroux from calling his team experienced.

“I think all the way down from our administration to our players, we think that getting to regionals [last year] with such a young team is only going to make them that much more experienced and be better prepared this year,” Leroux said.

The golf team kicks off its 2010 fall schedule on Sept. 5-6 when they will look to defend its title at the Turning Stone Intercollegiate in Verona, N.Y.

Missouri came out on top of a 13-team field last year, posting a combined three round score of 885 and winning the tournament by 12 strokes over their closest competitor, the University of Richmond.

The Tigers are confident they can win the tournament again this year, even though the field is more competitive than last year's.

“It’s going to be a lot more difficult, but I think the caliber of players here is bar none and everybody has great expectations and holds themselves accountable for playing well,” junior golfer Chris Johnson said.

Looking forward, the Tigers expect an improved season because of the experience the younger players have gained and the quality of players that have entered the program in the last couple of seasons.

“We’re a lot more competitive, but we are still friends,” Johnson said. “We are going to push each other to the limits, so that’s actually going to help us in the end.”

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