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Flames Prepare for NCAA Fayetteville Region Action

May 14, 2013
|  Fayetteville, Ark.
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Senior Max McKay is the only active golfer on Liberty's roster to post a sub-par, 54-hole total score at an NCAA Regional after carding a one-under par 209 at the NCAA New Haven Regional in 2010.

NCAA Men's Golf Regional Notes

No. 7 seed Liberty will take to The Blessing Golf Course on Thursday to open up play in the Fayetteville Regional of the 2013 NCAA Men's Golf Regionals, with the Flames' sights set on advancing to their second straight national championship event.

Last year, Liberty upended several of the best golf programs in the country to claim the program's first-ever NCAA Regional victory and advance to play at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

The Flames came into the 2012 NCAA Greensboro Regional as the No. 6 seed, but following 54 holes of play at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C., Liberty claimed victory. The Flames fired a four-over par 868 (283-293-292) to win by three strokes over Florida (299-287-285-871) and six over Auburn (296-292-286-874).

The victory propelled the Flames into the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship where Liberty missed advancing to the match play portion of the championship by one stroke.

In their first-ever NCAA National Championship showing, the Flames finished one shot out of eighth place with a 24-over par 876 (295-288-293). Liberty ended the event one stroke shy of forcing a three-way playoff with Kent State (293-291-291-875) and Florida State (290-290-295-875).

Liberty is making its third straight NCAA Regional appearance and fifth overall. For the third time in program history, the Flames earned an at-large bid into the NCAA Regionals, as they are seeded No. 7 in this week's Fayetteville Regional.

Liberty, currently ranked No. 40 by Golfstat and No. 31 by Golfweek, saw its string of two consecutive Big South Men's Golf Championship titles come to an end in April when the Flames were defeated by Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers (No. 52 Golfstat/No. 49 Golfweek) overtook the Flames following second round action of the conference championship at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety Six, S.C. (April 21-23).

Despite a late charge during the final round, Coastal Carolina (296-289-296-881) was able to hold off Liberty (294-294-295-883), winning its 14th overall Big South title by two strokes over the Flames.
Coastal Carolina is the No. 9 seed in the Baton Rouge Regional, which will play at University Club of Baton Rouge in Baton Rouge, La.

Each of Liberty's starting five at this year's NCAA Regional event has previous regional playing experience, led by junior Chase Marinell and senior Max McKay.

Marinell, currently ranked No. 83 in the country by Golfstat, has posted a one-over par 54-hole score in each of the last two regionals (71.83 regional stroke average).

He finished tied for 25th at the Arizona Regional in 2011 with a one-over par 214 (72-71-71-214) and tied for seventh place at last year's Greensboro Regional with a one-over par 217 (70-74-73-217).

McKay sat out last year's postseason regional and national championship play after making some swing adjustments midway through his junior season.

McKay has six rounds of regional playing experience under his belt and comes into this week's event with a 72.00 career regional stroke average. He is the only active player on Liberty's roster to finish a regional tournament under par, as he posted a one-under par 209 at the New Haven Regional in 2010 (70-72-67).

Liberty's final three golfers at this week's Fayetteville Regional – juniors Niklas Lindstrom and Ian McConnell and sophomore Mathieu Fenasse – each played a significant role in Liberty's team victory at the Greensboro Regional last year.

Fenasse is coming off his first career individual title, as the sophomore claimed medalist honors at the Big South Men's Golf Championship.

Fenasse, who has posted a 72.5 stroke average during the spring, fired a five-under par 211 (75-70-66) to defeat Big South Player of the Year Sebastian Soderberg (71-73-70-214) of Coastal Carolina by three strokes.

Lindstrom, a four-time Big South Player of the Week honoree during the 2012-13 season, was one of Liberty's most consistent golfers at the Grandover Resort last year. He finished with a three-over par 219 (72-74-73) to claim a share of 13th place at the Greensboro Regional.

McConnell gave the Flames their best individual score during the final round of the Greensboro Regional, allowing Liberty to fend off charging Florida and Auburn. The junior closed his first regional event with an even par 72, giving the Flames the eventual three-stroke margin over the Gators and six strokes over the Tigers.

The Flames will have their first look at The Blessing Golf Course during their team practice round tomorrow. Following the team's first circling of the Robert Trent Jones, Jr., course, which will play at 7,251 yards (par 72) during the regional, LibertyFlames.com will have a hole-by-hole preview of the course.

No. 7 seed Liberty will be paired with golfers from No. 8 seed Tulsa and No. 9 seed Kentucky for their first round action on Thursday. Regional play for the trio of teams will start off the No. 1 tee, beginning at 8:50 a.m. (CST).

During the Fayetteville Regional, Golfstat.com will provide full team and individual scoring updates, while @LibertyFlames (Liberty Athletics' official Twitter account) will provide periodic updates during each round of the regional.

Following the conclusion of play on Saturday, the top five squads in the 14-team field will advance to the NCAA Men's Golf Championship, which will be held at the Crab Apple Course at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga. (May 28 – June 2).

Liberty's Starting Five NCAA Regional Experience
Mathieu Fenasse (So., Lisa, France)
2012 – 71-78-77-226 (T39th/+10)
NCAA Regional Rounds: 3
NCAA Regional scoring average: 75.33

Niklas Lindstrom (Jr., Kalmar, Sweden)
2012 – 72-74-73-219 (T13th/+3)
NCAA Regional Rounds: 3
NCAA Regional scoring average: 73.00

Chase Marinell (Jr., Fort Myers, Fla.)
2011 – 72-71-71-214 (T25th/+1)
2012 – 70-74-73-217 (T7th/+1)
NCAA Regional Rounds: 6
NCAA Regional scoring average: 71.83

Ian McConnell (Jr., Riverview, Fla.)
2012 – 79-76-72-227 (T44th/+11)
NCAA Regional Rounds: 3
NCAA Regional scoring average: 75.67

Max McKay (Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.)
2010 – 70-72-67-209 (T16th/-1)
2011 – 74-75-74-223 (T61st/+10)
NCAA Regional Rounds: 6
NCAA Regional scoring average: 72.00

The Blessing Golf Club – Fayetteville, Arkansas
Hosted by the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Teams (seeded in the following order):
1. Texas [Big 12 Conference]
2. Arkansas
3. Oklahoma State
4. SMU
5. Kent State [Mid-American Conference]
6. Illinois [Big Ten Conference]
7. Liberty
8. Tulsa
9. Kentucky
10. Colorado
11. Indiana
12. North Carolina-Wilmington [Colonial Athletic Association]
13. UMKC [The Summit League]
14. Alabama State [Southwestern Athletic Conference]
Individuals:
1. Chris Gilbert, Kansas
2. Mitchell McLeroy, Stephen F. Austin
3. Pep Angles, Central Arkansas
4. Patrick Newcomb, Murray State
5. Paul McConnell, Texas-Arlington