COLUMBIA — It took two days of rain and chills, but at the end of the Columbia Regional Preview on Tuesday, the Missouri men's golf team stood triumphant. The Tigers won its second straight tournament of the season, this time at The Club at Old Hawthorne. Missouri beat 10 teams with a score of 12-under par.
Coach Mark Leroux said he is relieved the Tigers pulled off the win, managing to overcome Austin Peay's first round lead and Iowa State's second-day surge.
"This is a dangerous field," Leroux said. "We had five BCS schools and five schools that are contenders for their conference championship or have won in the past year or two. So not only is it mid-majors mixing in with BCS schools, but it's good mid-majors."
Missouri's biggest improvement came from freshman Euan Walker. Walker, who tied for ninth at Missouri's first tournament, hit 6-under par to tie for second place. Walker said the rain, cloudy sky and cool temperature helped make him feel like he was playing back in his home of Troon, Scotland.
"I don't know if it helped, but it felt like home," Walker said of the weather. "I wasn't surprised to be playing golf in the cold and the wet in the last couple of days, so I guess it did help me a wee bit."
Leroux said that Walker's display of skill as a freshman could be a huge help for the program for the next four years.
"We're trying to get better. We lost Jace Long, so we need somebody to come in from that back end," Leroux said. "Yeah, there's a progression and people mature and they get better as they get older if you're doing a good job as a coach and a team. But in particular, if you can get somebody from the back to jump up, then you really got something going."
Senior Emilio Cuartero took first place in the tournament with a score of 11-under par. The tournament was his second individual championship of the fall season.
Cuartero recognized that, like last season, this team is undefeated after the first two tournaments. But Cuartero said with Walker, this team has the potential to be better than last year's.
"I think he's going to be a stud," Cuartero said. "We're better than we were last year, and now, we have a freshman who is really good. I think we're going to be better than last year. I've got confidence in the team."
The Tigers' next tournament is in Birmingham, Ala., starting on Sept. 30.
Junior Ryan Zech placed 14th after hitting a 2-under-par 70 in the final round. Senior Hunter Kraus hit a career-best 67 strokes in Round 2 but fell to a tie for 22nd place after hitting 81 in the final 18 holes.
Redshirt sophomore Wilson Sundvold placed 53rd in the event, but after the tournament, Leroux said he deserved a tip of the hat for his final round performance.
"We had two guys going in the tank: Wilson Sundvold and Hunter (Kraus)," Leroux said. "I think Wilson was 7- or 8-over (par) through five holes, and Hunter was about the same. I told them both, 'Hey, one of you needs to shoot 77 today.' ... Wilson really gutted it out."
Sundvold said the tournament was a grind, but he was proud of his end result.
"About nine holes through, I started to understand that my score was going to count," Sundvold said. "I knew that Hunter (Kraus) was also having a rough day, and I knew that there were a couple of things in my swing that were going wrong and just trusted that it was the right way to do it. Made a couple of birdies coming in and ended up being the best 79 I ever shot."