Hunter Kraus leads Missouri golf in second round of NCAA regional

Friday, May 16, 2014 | 10:29 p.m. CDT; updated 3:59 p.m. CDT, Saturday, May 17, 2014

COLUMBIA — As a member of the Missouri golf team, senior co-captain Hunter Kraus has always shot well at home.

This weekend's NCAA Columbia Regional, contested at Missouri's home course, the Golf Club at Old Hawthorne, has been no exception.

Through the tournament's first two rounds, Kraus' 7-under 137 with two sub-70 rounds led the 14-team field. His strong play has propelled the Tigers to third place despite entering as the No. 8 seed.

Missouri completed the first two rounds with a 15-under 561 (281-280), two strokes behind leaders Arkansas and Oklahoma State. The Tigers were in second to the Cowboys, the No. 4 team in the country, after Day One.

Kraus started Friday third individually, behind Oklahoma State's Jordan Niebrugge and Talor Gooch. Both Niebrugge and Gooch shot 1-over par Friday, which allowed Kraus to set the pace entering the final round Saturday.

Missouri's other senior co-captain, Emilio Cuartero, finished the day at 2-under on the par-72 course. Cuartero, ranked No. 63 in the country, birdied four of the final seven holes — including three in a row from 15-17 — to close out the round.

The tournament's top five teams will qualify for the National Championship, held next week in Hutchinson, Kansas. As it stands, the Tigers are 15 shots above fifth place, which is held by fifth-seeded Arizona State.

Fifteen strokes, though significant, isn't an impossible gap. Virginia, which entered the tournament at No. 11 and seeded second, capitulated in round two after a solid performance in the first round. The Cavaliers shot 15-over (303) on Friday and plummeted from third to ninth.

On the flip side, Arkansas, which started the day in fourth, shot a course record 18-under (270) on Friday and finished the day tied for first.

Case in point.

But like Kraus, Missouri tends to play well at home. In the last three years, the Tigers have won every event they've hosted at Old Hawthorne.

To qualify for their first National Championship since 2005, Missouri won't have to win.

Another round like Kraus' first two of the weekend certainly wouldn't hurt.

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.

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