The Missouri State men’s golf team finished third after three days of competition in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Senior Kory Franks led the Bears with a second-place individual finish. Southern Illinois University came away with the win followed by pre-championship favorite Illinois State.
The Bears hosted the tournament at the Porto Cima course in Lake of the Ozarks.
“It was a solid week for us at Porto Cima,” head coach Neal Stafford said. “We had a great opportunity, just as we do each and every event, but came up a little short in the end.
“Illinois State had a terrific year and Southern Illinois played very well down the stretch in the final round. You have to give those guys a lot of credit.”
After the first day of competition the Bears trailed leader Illinois State by 14 and second-place Southern Illinois by 13.
The Bears were led by seniors Franks and Brad Carpenter. At the conclusion of day one, the seniors rolled in at second and fourth, respectively.
By the third and final day of competition, Franks finished regulation with a rally from three strokes down on the back nine, to four-under-par (212), and tied for first place with Illinois State’s David Rauer.
The tie forced a sudden death playoff hole.
“The sudden death hole, and really the final six holes, are still kind of a blur to me,” Franks said. I tried to become tunnel visioned in what I was doing and just have control of my breathing. I didn’t really understand the magnitude of what was happening at the time.”
Franks hit an errant tee shot, forcing him to play from the penalty area. Meanwhile, Rauer had an impressive shot to save par and claim the individual title.
“Ultimately, I came up short, but I did so making aggressive swings, so I don’t regret anything I did,” Franks said.
The Bears competed with a very seasoned team.
Their seven-man roster was made up of four seniors and one athlete from each of the other classes.
“Our expectations are always very high with the championship atmosphere this program has created over the past several years,” Stafford said. “This particular group rewrote the programs record books.”
Carpenter followed Franks’ second place finish at fourth, earning them all-conference honors.
Seniors Adam Fisher and Jack Knoesel finished their time as Bears with a tie for 29th with totals tallying 233.
Junior Lukas McCalla finished tied for 38th.
“This team was certainly capable and showed that many times throughout the last 3-4 years with multiple team and individual titles,” Stafford said. “They will no doubt go down as one of the best teams in Missouri State golf history.”
Franks reminisced from his four years as a Bear.
“I’m just so grateful for all the opportunities Coach Stafford and Missouri State have provided me,” Franks said. “The relationships I have developed with my coach and teammates will be everlasting.”