COLUMBIA — Jace Long has been playing golf competitively since he was 6 years old and won his first major tournament at the age of 13. From there he began to focus on improving every day in order to play at the college level.
"After that first win it kind of progressed," Long said. "I got this mind set, even at 13 or 14 years old, that it was something I really wanted to do, and I had fun with it."
Now a sophomore on the Missouri golf team, Long has accomplished his goal.
"Being from Missouri helped a lot with my decision," Long said. "I considered other places, but I knew I wouldn't be as happy as I would be here."
Still, just being on a college roster wasn't all he wanted to accomplish. Long has broken through to be the top player on his team this season. After six top-six finishes in 13 events last year, he has had five top-six finishes in six events this fall, including two second-place finishes.
"I had a pretty good fall season this year," Long said. "I actually had a chance to win every one of those tournaments that I finished in the top six in."
If Long continues playing the way he has this fall, he is likely to get one of those elusive wins.
"I just need to sink a couple shots here and there," Long said. "I need to finish out the last couple of holes and put three good rounds together to win."
Through his first six tournaments, Long has posted a 18-hole average of 71.94, which is more than one and a half strokes better than his 73.53 average from his redshirt freshman season last year.
With the fall season complete, Long doesn't have time to relax. Even with the team taking a winter break, he says he will play by himself as much as possible in order to stay sharp.
With cold weather approaching, staying sharp may be a tough thing to do in Missouri, but Long has a plan to participate in tournaments in places like Arizona, Florida and Georgia during Christmas break.
As for what Long is looking to accomplish during the spring semester?
"I'd obviously like to win one," Long said. "I won a tournament last year, so maybe I could win two in the spring. I'm just going to try and get over that hump and keep playing well."