Missouri State seeking first league title since 1993 in Sunrise Beach
SUNRISE BEACH, Mo. – Missouri State will be aiming for a second league title when it hosts the 2015 Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Golf Championship at the Club at Porto Cima Monday and Tuesday.
The Bears enter the tournament on the 7,036-yard, par-72 layout having been picked third in a pre-championship poll of league coaches, and are in search of a first championship since 1993.
Action is slated to get underway at 8:30 a.m., on Monday as teams play 36 holes on the Jack-Nicklaus-designed course. Tuesday’s final round begins at 8 a.m.
The team champion this week will earn the Valley’s automatic bid to the NCAA championship. NCAA regionals are set for May 14-16, while the championship tournament is slated for May 29-June 3 at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
“We are looking forward to hosting this week at Porto Cima,” Missouri State head coach Neal Stafford said. “We have a great opportunity ahead of us and hope to capitalize. Porto Cima and the staff here have been great supporters of college golf over the years and we are very fortunate to have the Valley championship here on a regular basis.”
Missouri State comes into the week fourth in the conference in team scoring average at 298.32 in 25 rounds this season. MSU boasts five golfers in the top 30 in the league in individual scoring average, led by junior Joey Johnson, who is fifth overall at 74.2.
The Bears will go with a lineup of Johnson, juniors Mitch Mather and Brik Brauburger, senior Mark Karlsen and freshman Brad Carpenter. The quintet hopes to break up a string of seven straight MVC championships won by Wichita State, which, again, has been chosen to repeat as Valley champion.
Johnson has been the Bears’ top finisher in four of their 10 tournaments this season. He posted his best result at the ORU Shootout to close the regular season in a tie for second at 2-over in the rain-shortened event in Broken Arrow, Okla., on April 13-14. Missouri State was second overall in the event, and looks to carry the momentum of the quality play into the championship.
Johnson leads the team with four under-par rounds this season and is tied for second with three rounds shooting even par.
Mather sits 10th in the league in scoring at 74.5 in 22 rounds and nine tournaments. He has recorded three top-10 finishes on the year, with two coming in the last three events. Mather paced MSU at the UALR First Tee Collegiate, firing a 1-over 217 on March 30-31 to tie for 10th overall, and earned a share of fourth place at the ORU Shootout, firing 3-over 147.
Mather leads the team with four even-par rounds for the season, and carded a team season low of 67 in the opening round at UALR on March 30.
Karlsen is 21st in the MVC in scoring average at 75.44 in all 25 rounds. He comes into the championship having placed in the top 25 twice and second overall once this season. Karlsen tied for 18th at ORU, shooting 10-over 154.
Brauburger is 24th in the league with a 75.68 scoring average in nine tournaments and 22 rounds this season has led the Bears in three events, most recently the Jim Rivers Intercollegiate to end the fall campaign. Brauburger shot 1-over 217 to finish 13th overall there.
Carpenter is 30th in the league in stroke average at 76.33 in 21 rounds and eight tournaments. He has been a part of the team’s top five for the last six events and tied for 17th to lead the Bears at the Grover Page Classic March 9 with a 2-over 146.
Porto Cima opened in 2000 and has hosted several Missouri Golf Association Championships, the annual Missouri Intercollegiate and the 2011 Men’s MVC Championship. Recently Golf Digest recognized it as the one of the best private golf courses in America.