Missouri junior Ryan Zech’s ninth-place finish at the 2014 NCAA Division I men’s golf championship represents the best result for any Tigers golfer in 51 years.
Zech, a Kearney graduate, strung together rounds of 70, 69 and 68, finishing the 54-hole tournament a 3-under par in a six-way tie for ninth at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
The last Missouri golfer to finish higher at national was Rich Poe, who tied for fifth in 1963.
“Ryan has played outstanding golf all season,” Missouri coach Mark Leroux said in a release from MU athletics. “These last few events he has played like a No. 1 and it should give him a lot of confidence heading into the summer and his senior year.”
Zech, who closed the season with three straight top-20 finishes, wasn’t the only Tigers All-American either.
Senior Emilio Cuartero finished at 2-under overall in a four-way tie for 15th one shot behind Zech.
Cuartero, a native of Lleida, Spain, opened with a 67 then shot 72 before wrapping up his career with a third-round 69. It was his ninth top-20 finish of the season.
“Emilio has been one of the most consistent golfers in the country this year,” Leroux said. “I’m really proud of him, proud of the way he finished out his career and appreciate all he and (fellow senior) Hunter (Kraus), our two co-captains, have done for the program.”
As a team, Missouri finished 20th at 19-over par. The top eight teams advanced to match play, which teed off Tuesday morning.
The Tigers also finished 20th in their last national championship appearance in 2005.
Missouri has reached the NCAA final eight times and the program’s best finish is 13th in 1983.
“I’m really proud of the way our guys went out and competed,” Leroux said. “This was a great experience for our team, and both Ryan and Emilio showed they are capable of competing with the best players in the country. They are All-Americans. This will be a great springboard into next year.”
Freshman Euan Walker finished at 11-over in a seven-way tie for 113th, while Kraus shot 14-over and wound up in a five-way tie for 125th.
Sophomore Wilson Sundvold shot 76-76-79. He finished at 21-over and tied for 148th.
“The experience was also invaluable for guys like Wilson and Euan,” Leroux said. “Those three guys are coming back next year, and this experience will have them hungry as we compete to get back to the NCAA Finals again next year.”
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