Feb 2, 2010

Liberty golf heats up with victory over Southeastern

by Ryan Carr

The Liberty golf team began preparation for a new season over the weekend with a warm-up event against the Southeastern Fire at the River Hills Country Club in Valrico, Fla.

The Flames won the first match-play event on Saturday by a score of 4.5 to 2.5. Sophomore Robert Karlsson and junior Preston Dembowiak led the way for the Flames. Karlsson defeated Chris Burke 8 and 6, while Dembowiak defeated Matt Matsen 4 and 3.

Karlsson shot a 68 to finish four strokes under par and Dembowiak shot a 3-under par 69. The Flames also received victories from junior Chris Watters and sophomore Jordan Frye despite windy course conditions.

“I am used to playing in the wind so it does not affect my game that much, which is a big advantage for me, compared to other players. The wind definitely was a big explanation that I won my first match 8 and 6 because my opponent struggled in the wind,” Karlsson said.

Liberty carried its dominance over to Monday and defeated Southeastern more handily 6.5 to 0.5 in the continued windy conditions. Junior Stephen Dooley and freshman Max McKay both shot a 1-over par 73 to help lead the way for the Flames. Liberty golfers captured six of the seven matches Saturday, tying the seventh match.

“Our mindset going into last weekend’s match in Florida was simply to prepare for our first tournament next week in Jacksonville. While it was important to play well and shoot low, our focus is on making a big statement in our first tournament of the spring,” Dembowiak said. “Every guy on the team is excited and ready to change the mentality of this program into a top-tier NCAA threat.

Dembowiak and the rest of the Flames understood the importance of having a tune-up match such as this one to get conditioned for tournament play. The event last weekend gave the Flames an opportunity to practice in warmer conditions than in Lynchburg and prepare for the start of the season in February.

“Playing in a tournament last weekend was definitely a positive experience for our team. With all the bad weather basically everywhere over Christmas, it was really important for us to get out in some good weather and play competitively. It doesn’t matter who we played, just the fact that we were able to play and compete again was a good thing,” Dembowiak said.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the practice and playing we did in Florida last weekend will provide us the confidence needed to play well next week at TPC Sawgrass,” Dembowiak said.

The Flames will compete next at the Jacksonville Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., on Feb. 8 and 9. The event is held on the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course, which is the site of the Players Championship for the PGA TOUR.

Contact Ryan Carr
at rmcarr2@liberty.edu.

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