Mizzou Men’s Golf begins play at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational this weekend (Sunday, Oct. 29-Tuesday, Oct. 31), where head coach Mark Leroux‘s squad hopes to end what has been a very strong fall season on a high note.
As the first half of the 2017-18 campaign draws to a close in Kauai, Hawaii, the Tigers find themselves sitting at No. 15 in the Golfweek Men’s Collegiate rankings. The Black & Gold have played well as a unit, registering one sixth-place finish, one fourth-place finish, and a sixth-straight tournament championship at the Turning Stone Intercollegiate.
The last event before the break will not be easy, as the Warrior Invitational is laden with respectable competition. No. 5 Wake Forest is the headliner, but the event also features No. 25 UCLA, Louisville, Colorado, Washington, host Hawaii, and others. For the first time in nearly a month, the Tigers will be facing off against an opponent ranked higher than them.
“We’re really excited about the Mizzou lineup we’re taking out to Hawaii, as it features our experienced golfers, as well as some talented underclassmen,” Leroux said. “Where we’re going as a program this season will show in this tournament, as it’s our last event of the fall and serves as an opportunity to really propel us into the second half of our schedule in February.”
Leading the Tigers to Hawaii is senior Hayden Buckley (Belden, Miss.), who has started his senior campaign in unstoppable fashion. Through three tournaments, Buckley has registered two individual championships, courtesy of his career-best 69 strokes-per-round average. At the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, Buckley matched the school record for best event score, becoming the second Tiger ever to shoot under 200 strokes over 54 holes (68-64-67 — 199). For his efforts, the senior has moved up to No. 10 in Golfweek’s Individual Men’s Rankings. Additionally, Buckley was Mizzou’s top finisher in Kauai last season, tying for sixth overall (66-68-75 — 209).
Sophomore Rory Franssen (Inverness, Scotland) follows Buckley in the second slot for the Black & Gold. Franssen rebounded nicely at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate, finishing tied for 25th (71-68-76 — 215) to record his second event-under-par this season. The sophomore will look to better on his already strong performance from the Warrior last season, in which he tied for 26th as an individual (75-72-70 — 217).
The dynamic freshman duo of Jamie Stewart (Renfrewshire, Scotland) and Jack Parker(Columbia, Mo.) sit in the third and fourth slots for Leroux. The two made up an excellent recruiting class, and so far, have lived up to the hype: according to Golfstat.com, they rank second in the nation for freshman class impact. The addition of Parker and Stewart has helped fill the gap in the present, and gives the program immense potential going forward.
Reentering competition to close out the fall season is senior Trevor Ullestad (Jewell, Iowa), taking swings for the first time since the Turning Stone Intercollegiate. Ullestad fared well at the event, shooting a 220 through three rounds.
Senior Matt Echelmeier (Columbia, Mo.) will also make the trip, but will be playing as an unattached individual.