Mar 31, 2009

Men's Golf

by Jake Petersen

Placing inside the top-three in their first three tournaments, the Liberty Flames men’s golf team finally pulled through and won its first tournament since the 2006 William & Mary Invitational, winning by three shots over Campbell last week at the Kingsmill River Course.

The River Course, designed by world-renowned architect Pete Dye, is a 6,831-yard layout bordering the James River and ranked as the No. 6 golf course in the state of Virginia. The course plays host to an annual LPGA Tour event, which was won last year by Annika Sorenstam.

Ironically, the Flames have had success at the River Course in the past, winning the 2006 William & Mary Invitational in a rain-shortened 18-hole event.

On day one of the tournament, newcomers Robert Karlsson and Tobias Petterson got the Flames off to a blistering start. Both freshmen fired one-under par rounds of 70, placing them in a five-way tie for first place with Campbell’s Vaita Guillaume, Gardner-Webb’s Immu Korvenmaa and Marshall’s Christian Brand.

The other three Liberty golfers were busy as well, especially redshirt junior Nathan Schenz-Davis and senior Jay Calvo. Schenz-Davis backed up Petterson and Karlsson’s solid rounds with a great round of his own, as the California native carded an even-par round of 71 and finished the round tied for sixth. Calvo finished at two-over with his round of 73, sitting in a tie for 17th place with another 18 holes to play the following day. The final Flames golfer, Preston Dembowiak, rebounded from a front nine score of 40 to finish with a 38 on the back nine and a final score of 78.

Despite cold and windy conditions in the earlier rounds, lower numbers started to show up on the leaderboard as the rounds progressed. Campbell, led by Guillaume’s round of 70, sat just one stroke behind the Flames at 285 after the first day of play.

“In the morning it was cold and windy, but it warmed up in the afternoon and made the scoring conditions easier,” Schenz-Davis said. “Because we were leading going into the final round, we were able to tee off a little later and play when the conditions were better.”

The final round of action saw the Flames hold on to their one-stroke lead and secure their fourth straight top-3 finish of the season.

“Our mindset going into the final round was to dominate and go really low,” Schenz-Davis said. “Although we ended up not really dominating, we knew what we needed to do to win and we did that, fortunately.”

For the second straight week, Karlsson racked up medalist honors with an even-par 71 in the final round. His Swedish sidekick Petterson carded a one-over 72 in the final round and finished alongside Schenz-Davis (71) in a three-way tie for second at even par for the tournament along with Temple’s Eric Plisko. Calvo tied for 28th after shooting a final round 76, while Dembowiak improved on his first round 78 with a 76 in the final round.

“I think its obvious what Robert has brought to this team. To win in consecutive tournaments is something that requires a great amount of skill, focus, and desire...all of which he has displayed this entire year,” Dembowiak said. “As soon as Robert arrived here, he instantly jelled with the entire team and made the transition from Sweden to the states very smoothly. He has an incredible competitive desire that has carried over into all of us who have been around him.”

Dembowiak and the rest of the Flames feel that this year’s stellar play combined with the solid core of players on the team could be the start of something great for Liberty golf.

“Would be consistent play from top to bottom. At any given tournament, we have the confidence in one another that we will all shoot below 75, which doesn’t put an immense amount of pressure on one individual,” Dembowiak said. “Winning this week at William & Mary has finally gotten us over the hurdle of winning as a team. As a team, we need to continue to push and trust one another more than ever, and if we do so, I think we will keep pushing our expectations higher.”

The Flames were supposed to be back in action this week in the Midwest at the Diet Coke Shocker Classic hosted by Wichita State, but an unexpected blast of wintry weather in the Wichita area forced the cancellation of the tournament. The Flames will enjoy a week off before hitting the links the following week at the Colorado University (CU) Stevinson Ranch Invitational in Stevinson, Calif.

Contact Jake Petersen at


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