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Flames in Eighth Place After Day One of NCAA Eugene Regional
Steady and improved play by No. 6 Liberty during its final nine holes of play allowed the Flames to move up the leaderboard during the final hours of Day One of the NCAA Eugene Regional on Thursday.
The Flames, who opened the day on the more challenging back nine, made the turn at 10-over par and near the bottom of the leaderboard. However, the Flames shaved five shots off their opening nine score and climbed into a share of eighth place following the conclusion of play with a 15-over par 295.
No. 1 seed Stanford was the only team in the 13-team field to post a score in red figures, as the Cardinal leads the overall field following a four-under par 276.
No. 3 seed Oklahoma is four shots back following an even par 280, while No. 4 seed South Carolina and No. 9 seed North Florida share third place with a six-over par 286.
Regional host and No. 7 seed Oregon is currently in the coveted fifth-place position following a nine-over par 289 on the Ducks' home course.
Following the conclusion of regional play on Saturday, the top five teams in the 13-team field will advance to the 2014 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., May 23-28.
Liberty trails Oregon by six strokes heading into tomorrow's second round at the Eugene Country Club (par 70, 6,990 yards). The course's thick, U.S. Open style rough continually penalized players who did not find the narrow fairways throughout the day.
Stanford's Patrick Rodgers, currently ranked No. 3 in the country by Golfstat, leads a group of 10 players who managed to circle the Robert Trent Jones redesigned course under par. Rodgers birdied four out of his first five holes on the back nine to take the day one individual lead with a four-under par 66.
Chattanooga's Chris Robb and Air Force's Kyle Westmoreland are in second place one shot back with a three-under par 67.
Liberty's Niklas Lindstrom fired the best round of his NCAA Regional career and is currently tied for 11th place following a level par round of 70.
The senior made the turn at one-over par after trading birdies on No. 15 and 17 for bogeys on No. 16 and 18. Following a bogey at the par-4, No. 3 hole, Lindstrom birdie two of his next three holes and closed with three pars to post his team-leading round.
Chase Marinell, the 2014 Big South Men's Golfer of the Year, is tied for 41st place following a four-over par 74.
Marinell's first nine holes were up and down, as he made the turn at two-over par after posting four bogeys, three pars and two birdies to open his fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance.
The senior got one of the three shots he dropped on the back nine back with a birdie at the par-3, 200-yard No. 7 hole, only to give it back at No. 9 (par 4, 450 yards).
Mathieu Fenasse is one shot back of Marinell and is currently tied for 48th place following a five-over par 75 opening round.
Fenasse bogeyed six of the first eight holes he played, including a stretch of four-consecutive bogeys over holes No. 14, 15, 16 and 17.
After opening with a bogey at No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, the junior settled down with seven-straight pars and a birdie at No. 9.
Ian McConnell trails Fenasse by one stroke following a six-over par 76, which has the senior tied for 54th place in the 75-man field.
McConnell opened with consecutive bogeys, but got back to even par on the day following a 45-foot birdie putt at the No. 15 hole (par 4, 440 yards).
However errant approach shots at No. 16 and 17, both par four holes, forced McConnell to give two stroke back and make the turn at two-over par.
Twice more McConnell had consecutive bogeys during his last nine holes of golf, capped off at No. 8 (par 4, 485 yards) on his lone three-putt of the day.
McConnell finished the round hitting 8-of-14 fairways and 7-of-18 greens in regulation. The senior's lag putting was tested most of the day as he continually hit balls to the fringe, posting 28 putts during his third NCAA Regional showing.
Liberty's final golfer in the field is Jacob Mast, who is making his regional debut with this event. The senior is currently in 74th place following a 13-over par 83.
The Flames will once again face the daunting task of starting play on the back nine tomorrow, this time beginning sent off the tee at No. 10 (par 401 yards) along with golfers from No. 5 seed Baylor and No. 11 seed Chattanooga. Liberty's day two tee times range from 8:00 a.m. to 8:44 a.m. (PST).
Golfstat.com will continue to provide hole-by-hole scoring updates throughout the round tomorrow, while @LUGameDay will be on the course provide more details updates on one of Liberty's five golfers.