The No. 32 Missouri men's golf team survived a breezy and damp morning to rally during Sunday's final round of the SEC Championship, firing a cumulative 13-over-par 293 to climb up the leaderboard into a tie for seventh after play ended at the Seaside Course at the Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Despite the struggles of senior captain Jace Long (10-over 82) and junior Emilio Cuartero (8-over 80), the Tigers managed to post the fourth best team total during Sunday's final round behind strong play from junior Hunter Kraus (1-over 71) and sophomore Ryan Zech (1-over 71) on the par-70 oceanside layout.
"We lacked our one-two punch of Jace and Emilio today, but the underclassmen performed and picked it up today," coach Mark Leroux said. "Thirty teams will be at the national championship, ... and the field will be very similar (to the SEC Championship)."
Kraus led Missouri with a three-day total of 6-over 216, placing him in a tie for 15th. Zech moved up 16 spots during the final round and finished in a tie for 23rd.
Cuartero, who has been Missouri's best player over the course of the spring tournament season, failed to card a single birdie and tallied eight final round bogies on a windy, overcast day, dropping him 12 spots on the individual leaderboard to finish in a tie for 31st.
Missouri entered the day in a tie for ninth and finished 27 shots behind defending national champion Alabama. The Tigers will have a chance to meet the Crimson Tide and several other SEC teams if they advance past next month's NCAA Regional.
"We're going to be one of the five best teams no matter where we go for regionals," Leroux said. "The guys aren't feeling (any extra pressure) right now. They know Jace and Emilio are going to carry us at regionals like they have all year."
The Tigers are assured a spot in the 68-team field with their high ranking and will try to advance to the NCAA Championship with a top-five finish in their NCAA Regional played May 16 to 18.
Missouri will find out its regional location at 5 p.m. May 6.