COLUMBIA — On Monday, Missouri golf coach Mark Leroux said if his team didn't finish in the top five at this weekend's NCAA Columbia Regional, it would be because it would be outperformed by five good teams. Missouri wasn't going to beat itself.
Through 18 holes, Leroux's words have been prophetic. Playing at The Golf Club at Old Hawthorne, its home course, Missouri finished the first round in second place at 7-under (281), one of only three teams to break par.
Senior Hunter Kraus, the team's No. 5 player, led the Tigers and a 4-under 68 Thursday. The round was Kraus' second best of the season and only the second time he shot under 70 in a single round.
Junior Ryan Zech and senior Emilio Cuartero also finished under par at 3-under and 2-under, respectfully.
Kraus, Zech and Cuartero combined for 10 birdies on the front nine as Missouri challenged No. 1 seed Oklahoma State for the lead early in the day.
Then, the weather intervened.
A pop-up thunderstorm caused an hour-long weather delay as Missouri began on the back nine. On the final nine holes, the Tigers shot even par. The 11th hole in particular was trouble: Every Missouri golfer bogeyed or doubled the hole.
No. 2-ranked Oklahoma State dominated the field by shooting 16-under (272) on the day. The team score tied an Old Hawthorne record for lowest collegiate team round, which was set by Missouri at the Regional Preview in September. Oklahoma State's Jordan Niebrugge set a course record for low collegiate round with a 7-under-par 65.
Rounding out the top five is No. 2 seed Virginia (285), No. 3 seed LSU (289) and No. 4seed Arkansas (289).
Missouri, the tournament's No. 8 seed, begins play at 9:10 a.m. on Friday.
Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.