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Flames Open Spring Season at Sea Best Invitational
The Flames head to the "Sunshine State" next week, beginning the spring portion of their 2014 golf schedule at the Sea Best Invitational for the fourth time in the last five years.
Liberty, who finished the fall ranked No. 37 by Golfstat and No. 36 by Golfweek, will be one of 16 teams that will compete at the 54-hole event hosted by Jacksonville.
The two-day tournament will be contested at TPC Sawgrass – THE PLAYERS Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The famed course serves as the home of the PGA Tour and hosts THE PLAYERS Championship each May.
The Flames are the second-highest ranked team in this year's Sea Best Invitational 16-team field, based upon the final fall rankings.
The team that finished ahead of the Flames in the national listings during the fall is Texas A&M, who was ranked No. 9 by Golfstat and No. 5 by Golfweek.
The Aggies are participating in their second Sea Best Invitational after finishing four strokes behind tournament winner Tennessee, last year. The Vols posted a 15-over par 879 winning score (300-279-300), finishing ahead of runner-up Texas A&M's 19-over par 883 (289-296-298).
Besides the Aggies and Flames, seven other top 100 ranked teams are in this year's field: East Carolina (No. 67/81), East Tennessee State (No. 56/48), Florida (No. 81/77), Florida Gulf Coast (No. 89/89), North Florida (No. 85/79), Tennessee (No. 50/46) and Winthrop (No. 59/55).
During its last three visits to the TPC Sawgrass – THE PLAYERS Stadium course, Liberty has posted three top five finishes. The Flames finished tied for fifth place in 2010, tied for third place in 2011 and finished as Sea Best Invitational runner-up to Florida in 2012.
Three of Liberty's top four players from the fall participated in the 2012 Sea Best Invitational, helping the Flames to their second-place finish.
Ian McConnell fired a six-over par 222 (71-75-76) to finish the event tied for ninth place. One stroke separated Chase Marinell (81-75-74-230) and Niklas Lindstrom (76-78-77-231), who finished the 54-hole event tied for 25th and 28th places, respectively.
Marinell was Liberty's top golfer during the fall, leading the Flames with three top 10 finishes and posting a 72.17 stroke average (fourth best fall average in program history). During the mid-season break, Marinell was named Golfweek's "Player to Watch" in the Big South this spring.
Mathieu Fenasse ranked second on the team during the fall, posting his best career fall stroke average (73.33). The junior's top showing was a sixth-place finish at the Rees Jones Invitational.
Rounding out Liberty's top four finishers during the fall were Lindstrom, with a 73.83 stroke average, and McConnell, following a 74.00 fall stroke average.
The tournament kicks off with 36 holes of action on Monday, followed by a concluding 18 holes of play on Tuesday. Live stats through Golfstat.com will be available for all three rounds.
2014 Sea Best Invitational Field
(Final Fall 2013 Golfstat/Golfweek Team Rankings)
Cal Poly (No. 128/175)
East Carolina (No. 67/81)
East Tennessee State (No. 56/48)
Florida (No. 81/77)
Florida Atlantic (No. 153/180)
Florida Gulf Coast (No. 89/89)
Jacksonville (No. 201/196)
Jacksonville State (No. 112/107)
Liberty (No. 37/36)
North Florida (No. 85/79)
Old Dominion (No. 136/126)
Pepperdine (No. 117/122)
Tennessee (No. 50/46)
Texas A&M (No. 9/5)
USC Upstate (No. 105/108)
Winthrop (No. 59/55)
TPC – Sawgrass – THE PLAYERS Stadium Course (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.)
Par 72, 6,977 yards