COLUMBIA--Missouri men's golf walked into the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate, hosted by Graeme McDowell, in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday feeling untouchable.
The team had dominated its first two tournaments, winning the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate and Columbia Regional Preview, in addition to seeing the grand opening of its new million-dollar clubhouse just two days prior.
But by the time the team returned home and started practice Wednesday, senior Emilio Cuartero was more than ready to put the tournament behind him.
"I'm just trying to forget about it," Cuartero said. "It wasn't good."
The Tigers placed 10th out of 12 teams at the tournament. Missouri's team score was 23-over par. Not a single Missouri player broke even par, as Cuartero and freshman Euan Walker tied for 24th place at 2-over par.
Memphis won the tournament with a team score of 22-under par. Memphis' Lars van Meijel and Mississippi's Blake Morris tied for first place individually at 8-under par.
Missouri junior Ryan Zech finished 31st at 3-over par, senior Hunter Kraus tied for 60th at 17-over par and sophomore Mike Wootten rounded out the team in 65th at 23-over par.
Zech had the best round of any Missouri player with a 5-under-par opening round.
"We didn't play our best, but that's golf," Zech said. "Unfortunately, we all struggled at the same time. But it's a long season, and if you're going to tell us we're going to play perfectly at every tournament, we probably wouldn't believe you."
The Tigers' biggest struggle at the tournament was getting their balls out of the rough. Since the Shoal Creek golf course uses Bermuda grass, which is thicker than what the Tigers commonly use, the players struggled predicting how the ball would react when hit.
"The biggest difference was the grass," Zech said. "Hitting the fairway was a huge importance for us, because if we hit in the rough, which I think some of us did quite a bit, we would struggle judging how the ball would react."
The team's struggle with the rough resulted in 15 double bogeys amongst the five players.
The Tigers' next tournament is the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, a tournament Missouri won a year ago. Cuartero is already fired up about defending the championship.
"We are going to make this motivation for the next tournament," Cuartero said. "I'm going to give so much. I'm going to give everything I've got, because we are defending champions in this tournament."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.