COLUMBIA— Missouri men's golf senior Hunter Kraus can see the future.
Before Sunday's final round at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, Kraus talked with fellow team captain Emilio Cuartero.
Cuartero remembers Kraus saying, "Emilio, I just need to shoot a 67 or something."
Kraus did exactly that. He hit 67 the final round of the tournament. Kraus' tournament performance marked his first time this season under par (-2) and his first time this season in the top 20 (18th).
He helped the Tigers climb three spots in the final round of the tournament and finish eighth. Missouri's score was 2-over par.
When Kraus joined the Tigers as a freshman, his contributions to the team were sparse. He played in five events as a freshman with his best outing being a 2-under-par round at the Memphis Intercollegiate. As a sophomore, he had a stroke average of 77.1 and never finished higher than 35th place.
"His freshman and sophomore year, he wasn't that great," coach Mark Leroux said. "He ... was kind of hit and miss. But then his junior year, he was phenomenal. He was our missing link."
In his junior year, Kraus became one of Missouri's most improved players. He placed in the top 20 six times during the 2012-13 season and was the Tigers' best scorer at the Southeastern Conference Championship, where he hit 71-74-71 in his three rounds.
"I don't think he ever thought he was a really good player," Leroux said. "Last year really helped him say, 'You know what? Maybe I am pretty good,' and now, he's getting better and better."
Kraus' average so far this season is 74.7 strokes, just off last year's average of 73.9 strokes per round.
"As a senior, it's my place to help lead the team," Kraus said. "If I play well, it will give the younger guys confidence."
Leroux said that Kraus is the measuring stick to see how the team as a whole is doing.
"If he plays well, we're really going to do well," Leroux said. "Initially, he was our fifth guy. Now, he's our third or fourth guy, so we're counting on him."
Cuartero said Kraus' positive attitude rubs off on the rest of the squad.
"Hunter is really charismatic," Cuartero said. "He's always in a good mood, but when he plays well, he's great. It's kind of contagious."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.