Freshman leads Missouri men's golfers to win at Mizzou Intercollegiate

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 | 6:56 p.m. CDT; updated 8:28 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 10, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Missouri men's golf team took home its second consecutive Columbia Orthopedic Group Mizzou Intercollegiate title on Tuesday at the Club at Old Hawthorne, shooting 4-over par as a team in the final round to finish the 15-team tournament at 8-under. 

The Tigers' 856 was 20 strokes ahead of second-place Iowa State. Austin Peay State finished in third at 16-over.

Freshman Ryan Zech earned his first individual championship by shooting a 1-under 71 in his final round to finish at 8-under par for the tournament.

"It feels awesome, and I am just relieved it is over to be honest," Zech said. "I probably put too much pressure on myself once I had the lead, but I came out and played really well on our home course."

Junior Jace Long and sophomore Emilio Cuartero joined Zech in the top 10. Long placed fifth at 3-under, while Cuartero finished sixth at even par.

Although Long and Cuartero are usually the Tigers' top-two golfers, Missouri coach Mark Leroux wasn't surprised to see Zech perform well.

"This is perfect for us, we expected him to be right here, we knew he was going to be that next great kid," Leroux said. "We hoped this would happen, and it is just great that it has."

Missouri will need Zech to continue to be at the top of his game if the Tigers hope to do well at the Big 12 Conference Championships on April 27 in Trinity, Texas.

The Tigers finished fifth in the conference championships last year, and this year the competition doesn't seem to be any easier. Three Big 12 teams are ranked in the top 25, including No. 1 Texas.

But Leroux said the Tigers are looking strong right now.

"We have all of our guys, one through five playing really well," Leroux said. "As a coach that is right where you want your team to be."

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