For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Missouri men’s golf team was selected for the NCAA Tournament.
This season, the Tigers have the added edge of the home-course advantage as regional hosts May 15-17 at The Club at Old Hawthorne in Columbia.
“It should be very advantageous,” Missouri coach Mark Leroux said. “As you know, in golf, the home-course advantage is a real phenomenon.”
Missouri earned a regional berth for the 12th time in program history and the sixth time under head coach Mark Leroux. The Tigers last advanced to the NCAA Championship in 2005.
Returning to the NCAA final has been Missouri’s primary focus.
“That’s kind of why we play every year, to get to the final,” Leroux said. “That’s what we’re shooting for and what we’ve talked about since day one, making it to the final.”
Leroux believes the Tigers have a great chance to do just that.
“We certainly do,” Leroux said. “There are a couple of teams in the country you could mention that are far above everybody else, but the four seed is Arkansas and we just played right with them in the last tournament. We should be in good shape as far as advancing.”
Lerouz said a strong showing against a stacked field at the SEC Tournament, where Missouri finished tied for sixth with Arkansas, has given his team a boost of confidence.
The Tigers will be the No. 8 seed in a 54-hole regional that also includes top-seeded Oklahoma State along with SEC rivals LSU, the No. 3 seed, and Arkansas, the No. 4 seed.
Virginia is the No. 2 seed in the regional and Arizona State is seeded fifth followed by Iowa and San Diego State.
Iowa State, Middle Tennessee State and Ohio State round out the regional along with Summit League champion Denver, Patriot League champion Loyola-Maryland and Northeast Conference champion Bryant.
Kansas State’s Daniel Wood is among the five individuals chosen for the Missouri regional along with Central Arkansas’ Pep Angles, Tulsa’s Matt Mabrey and Logan McCracken and Fairfield’s Alex Taylor.
The top five teams and top individual qualify for the NCAA Championship, which is set for May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. The individual champion will be decided May 26 and the team champion settled May 28, both on Golf Channel.
“It would be very beneficial for our program and for our future to get there, but also just for the seniors,” Leroux said of advancing from the regional. “(Seniors) Emilio (Cuartero) and Hunter (Kraus) have been consistently in the lineup for four years. To get them there, so we’re not just talking about how hard work pays off, but they’ll actually see the benefit of that.”
Junior Ryan Zach of Kearney also is one of the Tigers’ top players.
Wichita State, which drew the No. 12 seed in Oregon’s regional, will serve as national tournament host.