Limon's confidence rising after MIAA championship, player of year award

Apr. 19—Luis Limon is competing in just his second season of college golf with the Lions at Missouri Southern State University.

He finished conference play Wednesday doing something he's always known he was capable of at the MIAA championships at Shoal Creek Golf Club in Kansas City, Missouri.

"It gives me a lot of confidence," Limon said of his tournament victory. "I always knew I was capable of winning a tournament. I had been close in some before but hadn't been able to finish one."

The sophomore finished this week's event with a 1-under 71 to claim a 4-over 217 for the entire tournament. That's how you would define finishing a tournament, as Limon beat the three golfers tied for second place by three strokes.

Head coach Mike Wheeler talked about Limon's game and how he's seen it develop over the course of the past two seasons.

"The main thing is confidence. He's just matured," Wheeler said. "He's really growing his game. What I'm saying is, he's really coming into his own."

Part of that maturation process began in the offseason, as that's where Limon sees himself profiting the most from last year to this year in order to be an MIAA golfer of the year. Limon earned that award after his performance this week.

"I think preparing myself in the offseason helped to get me here. I was working on my putting technique all offseason with coach Phil (Walker), and I think that helped me make the top 10 constantly," Limon said.

Limon claimed six top-10 finishes of the 10 events he competed in between fall and spring in the 2023-24 campaign. This week's conference tournament made three consecutive finishes inside the top 10.

His best placing prior to his recent tournament victory was when he tied for second at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Men's Invitational back on March 4-5. His teammate, senior Tradgon McCrae, won the UAFS event. McCrae shot 210 in that tournament, and Limon finished with 214.

Having McCrae — last year's MIAA golfer of the year — as a teammate has helped Limon to develop as a competitor the past two years and especially this year.

"He's been a great mentor for me. He's given me a lot of good advice," Limon said. "We have great team chemistry, and I think that helped us to win."

That team chemistry isn't limited to just Limon and McCrae. The entire group has been able to bond and connect with one another on and off the course.

"He's been able to learn from upperclassmen and particularly Tradgon," Wheeler noted.

Limon joins McCrae as the only members of the MSSU team to average par or below for the entire season. Limon entered the MIAA tournament at 71.9 and stayed there after the event. McCrae began at 71.4 and is now at 71.75. A par average would be 72.

Assistant coach Derek Skaggs said Wednesday that Limon is a "par machine." Wheeler agreed with that statement. The native of Guadalajara, Mexico, shot 30 pars through the three-round tournament consisting of 54 holes. The other 24 had 10 birdies and 14 bogeys.

Wheeler sees his second-year player's ball-striking ability as one reason he's been able to find more success this year. He used the word "exceptional" to describe Limon as a ball striker.

"Not only is he accurate but he's very long," Wheeler said to describe Limon's driving. "I would call it efficient. His ball striking is incredibly efficient."

That was on display this week as Limon was a player that Wheeler said he would always want teeing off from hole 18. It's a par 5 that doglegs back to the right and has a lot of wooded area around it. The trees force you to have to put your ball down the middle of the fairway or "pipe" it as coach Wheeler referred to it. That's what Limon did this week.

Playing through the wind is something Limon thinks has improved his game and that he's had to learn to deal with most. Where he's from in Mexico is surrounded by mountains and doesn't get as much wind as he's dealt with here in Missouri.

"He's just a really good human being that wants to learn," Wheeler mentioned.

Limon is in the second half of his second season, and that's about when Wheeler says his athletes start to really get comfortable with their game and their role on the team.

An example of how notable the 21-year-old's game is can be seen in the fact that he was invited to play in a Mexican Golf Federation event recently in his home country because his success has been recognized.

This may just be a start for what's to come from Limon.

"I'm looking at next year and hoping for even better results," he said.

But before next season, he and the team are ready for the super regional tournament beginning on May 9 in Edmond, Oklahoma, at KickingBird Golf Club.

"We are very excited and looking forward to it," Limon said. "We have a good chance to qualify for nationals."

Qualifying for nationals would require at top-5 finish in Edmond three weeks from now.