Set to exceed expectations

Flames golf team primed for a deep run in the NCAA Tourney after showing talent during fall invitationals

short game — Mathieu Fenasse displays his stroke on the golf course during a tournament earlier in the season. Photo provided

Short game — Mathieu Fenasse displays his stroke on the golf course during a tournament earlier in the season. Photo provided

As the Liberty Flames men’s golf team heads into the spring season, players hope to perform at an exceptional level.

For the past three seasons, Head Coach Jeff Thomas has established a reputation of his team being competitive not only in the Big South but also around the country.

However, with great expectations come great responsibilities for the Flames to stay consistent with each tournament they play.

After dropping more than 25 spots in the rankings from the beginning to the end of the fall season, the team was left searching for consistent play at the end of the 2013 campaign. The team that started the fall season ranked 18th in the country finished in the 44th position.

“The overall grade for the fall tournaments would be a B,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t terrible, but simply okay. We need to be shooting par as a team. Driving, chipping and putting well will keep the ball in play.”

Despite the sluggish start to the fall season, the Flames showed glimpses of brilliance in the Northern Intercollegiate Rich Harvest Farms tournament Sept. 6-8. Liberty finished fourth overall and had two senior players, Chase Marinell and Niklas Lindstrom, in the top five for the weekend.

Another display of the team’s talent was shown in its fourth place overall finish at the Rod Myers Invitational. Liberty placed ahead of big name schools such as North Carolina University and Ohio State in the tournament.

Thomas said that the goal for his team in the spring is to make the national championship, and he knows what it will take to get there.

“We know we are good and what we are capable of,” Thomas said. “We have to start our first tournament fast, and we need to be consistent and be prepared.”

The spring season holds in store eight tournaments for the team, including a one-day, match-play tournament at Poplar Grove Golf Club in Amherst, Va.

The first match of the new year begins at the Sea Best Invitational Feb. 3 and is a two-day, 54-hole tournament at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

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