Missouri State Men's Golf Spring Preview
Feb. 4, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The 2013-14 men's golf campaign picks back up again in February following the winter hiatus. Coach Neal Stafford's team finished the fall portion of the schedule with four top-seven finishes in five events. The best finish thus far occurred at the John Dallio Memorial in Lemont, Ill. All five Bears competing earned a top-20 finish en route to ending the tournament second-place overall. With those five tournaments, Missouri State ranks sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring, averaging 11 over par.
"Golf is really year round, there are obviously points with weather and the academic schedule that your game takes a little break, but all our guys are ready to go," explained coach Stafford. "We officially started this week in preparation for our first event at the end of February. I'm really excited about our spring schedule this year, and we are looking forward to playing a couple new events."
All seven golfers will be returning for the spring, with seniors Nick Langley and Eric Straub looking to make an impact in their final tournaments as Bears. Both Langley and Straub are averaging 3.07 strokes above par, tied for second on the MSU roster behind sophomore Brik Brauburger's plus-2.29.
Last year's MVC Newcomer of the Year and all-conference performer Joey Johnson will also look to make an impact down the stretch for the Bears. Johnson was one of five different golfers to lead MSU in tournaments this season, along with Langley, Straub, Brauburger, and sophomore Mitch Mather.
"I feel as though the fall was better than things looked in the results," said coach Stafford. "Our fall scoring average was actually our 10th best semester on record, but we just lacked some under par rounds in key spots. It seemed as though each week we had someone different near the top of the leaderboard. We have a lot of opportunity this spring. I think the MVC is stronger overall this year, but no one has really emerged as a favorite at this point. Our guys are very focused and with continued hard work, we can be in the discussion come May."
Missouri State will resume this season's play at the Snowman Getaway in Goodyear, Ariz., on February 24-25. In last year's Snowman Getaway, the Bears finished in eighth place with rounds of 298-296-280--874.
The remaining regular season schedule includes the Argent Financial Classic (Choudrant, La.), UALR/First Tee Collegiate Classic (Little Rock, Ark.), Memphis Intercollegiate (Memphis, Tenn.), and the TSU Big Blue Intercollegiate (Nashville, Tenn.).
The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament will be held on April 28-29 and will be hosted by Illinois State in Silvis, Ill. Individually, Johnson finished in a tie for seventh at last year's conference tournament after scoring rounds of 74-77-70--221.
"This group is very determined and all have similar goals with regard to team accomplishments," added Stafford. "It's just a matter of going out and being able to hit the shots and make smart decisions when it counts."
The men's golf team also finished the fall semester with a combined team GPA of 3.61, the best of Missouri State's 16 athletic teams. The entire roster was named to the fall Athletic Director's Honor Roll for their academic accomplishments.