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LU Sweeps Top Big South Men's Golf Awards

April 21, 2010
|  Ninety Six, S.C.
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Jeff Thomas was named Big South Men's Golf Coach of the Year after guiding the Flames to their best regular season in program history and the program's top 54-hole total at the Big South Men's Golf Championship.

Jeff Thomas was named Big South Men's Golf Coach of the Year after guiding the Flames to their best regular season in program history and the program's top 54-hole total at the Big South Men's Golf Championship.

Liberty was rewarded for its best regular season in program history on Wednesday, as the Flames took home the top three men's golf honors following competition at the 2010 Big South Men's Golf Championship.

Sophomore Robert Karlsson was named the 2010 Big South Men's Golfer of the Year, freshman Max McKay was named the conference's Freshman of the Year, while head coach Jeff Thomas was named the league's Coach of the Year.

Liberty came into this week's Big South Men's Golf Championship ranked a program best No. 85 in the latest Golfweek collegiate team ranks. After an opening round 16-over par 304, No. 2 seed Liberty rebounded with an even par 288 and a program-record seven-under par 281 to finish in third place.

Following the final 18 holes of competition on Wednesday, the Big South Conference held its annual awards ceremony just outside the clubhouse at The Patriot Golf Course at Grand Harbor where the trio of Flames was honored.

Karlsson (So., Kalmar, Sweden) becomes the second Liberty golfer in program history to win Golfer of the Year and the first to be voted the award's recipient. The sophomore also posted a six-under par 66 during the final day and claimed individual medalist honors with a three-day, seven-under par 209.

In 2000, Yong Joo took home the honor after capturing individual medalist honors by posting a seven-under par 209 at the league championship event in at the Greenwood Country Club in Greenwood, S.C. Since 2004, the league's top honor has been voted upon prior to the year-end event.

Karlsson came in the 2010 Big South Men's Golf Championship ranked No. 176 by Golfweek and No. 233 by Golfstat. The sophomore, who was named Big South Freshman of the Year last season, ranked third in the Big South with a 72.89 stroke average.

He finished the year tied with McKay for tops in the league in tournament Top 10 finishes, as both Liberty golfers finished the regular season with five Top 10 finishes apiece. Additionally, both Karlsson and McKay were named Big South Golfers of the Week twice since last September, and were two of four golfers to be honored multiple times this season.

McKay (Fr., Jacksonville, Fla.) followed Karlsson's rookie year and became the third Liberty golfer to be named Big South Freshman of the Year. The first to take home the honor was Andrew Turner in 2003.

McKay, who finished in a tie for fourth with a one-over par 217, came into this week's Big South Men's Golf Championship ranked second in the league with a 72.85 season stroke average. The rookie is the top ranked golfer in the Big South according to the latest Golfstat individual golfer, as he ranks No. 90 in the latest listing.

Thomas, who guided Liberty to its best regular season in program history, becomes Liberty's first golf coach to be named Coach of the Year since the program joined the Big South for the 1991-92 season.

The six-year head coach started Liberty's current run at last year's Big South Men's Golf Championship, when he guided the Flames to their best-ever finish by finishing second to Coastal Carolina.

The Flames are the second-ranked team in the Big South according to Golfweek, ranking only behind No. 70 Coastal Carolina. The ranking is the team's best in program history entering the Big South Men's Golf Championship week.

Liberty currently has the best team scoring average in the Big South at 294.42 (based upon 24 rounds), followed by Coastal Carolina at 294.93 (30 rounds) and Gardner-Webb at 297.41 (27 rounds).

Both Karlsson and McKay were also named to the first half of the Big South all-conference team, which was voted upon prior to this week's Big South Men's Golf Championship.

Joining the pair of Liberty golfers on the first half of the listing were Coastal Carolina's Dan Obremski, Gardner-Webb's Daniel Kim and Charleston Southern's Kelvin Day.

The remaining five Big South all-conference golfers each earned their spot on the team by being the top five other finishers at the Big South Men's Golf Championship other than the previous five voted upon golfers.

The list includes Winthrop's Kamito Hirai, Coastal Carolina's Sebastian Soderberg, Charleston Southern's Ross Thomson, Coastal Carolina's Charlie Winegardner and Charleston Southern's Jacobo Pastor.

One additional Liberty golfer was honored, as Preston Dembowiak was named to the Big South all-academic team. The junior and last year Big South all-conference honoree finished in 25th place with a 12-over par 228 at this year's championship event. He has posted a cumulative 3.7952 GPA in nearly three years of college as a finance major.

2010 Big South Conference Men's Golf Award Winners

Big South All-Conference
(Voted on prior to the championship)
Robert Karlsson, So., Liberty
Kelvin Day, Sr., Charleston Southern
Dan Obremski, Sr., Coastal Carolina
Max McKay, Fr., Liberty
Daniel Kim, Fr., Gardner-Webb

(Top five other finishers at the championship)
Kamito Hirai, Winthrop
Sebastian Soderberg, Coastal Carolina
Ross Thomson, Charleston Southern
Charlie Winegardner, Coastal Carolina
Jacobo Pastor, Charleston Southern

Big South All-Academic Team
Dan Obremski, Sr., Coastal Carolina
Scott Wheeler, Jr., Gardner-Webb
Evan LaRocque, Jr., High Point
Preston Dembowiak, Jr., Liberty
Patrick Coleman, Sr., Presbyterian College

Golfer of the Year
Robert Karlsson, So., Liberty

Freshman of the Year
Max McKay, Liberty

Coach of the Year
Jeff Thomas