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Two Flames Prepare for NCAA Regionals
Liberty's Robert Karlsson and Max McKay will begin their individual quests for an NCAA title on Thursday at The Course at Yale in New Haven, Conn. The pair, along with three other individuals and 14 teams, will open up play at the New Haven Regional of the 2010 NCAA Men's Golf Regional on the par-70, 6,749 course.
For the first time in program history, Liberty has a pair of individual golfers competing at this year's NCAA Men's Golf Regionals. This is the second-straight year Karlsson has qualified as an individual and the first of McKay's collegiate career.
The Flames made their first appearance on the national scene in 2003, when Liberty qualified as an at-large team. Liberty's golf team became the first Athletics department program to earn a spot at an NCAA Championship event on the merits of its regular-season play, as all other programs have received automatic bids to NCAA postseason events by winning Big South titles. Liberty repeated as an at-large selection in 2006.
Karlsson (So., Kalmar, Sweden) became the first golfer in program history to earn an individual at-large selection to the NCAA Men's Golf Regionals last year. After joining the program midyear, the 2009 Big South Freshman of the Year finished in a share of 55th place at the NCAA Northeast Regional.
Karlsson posted an 18-over par 231 (82-76-73) on the par-71, 7,022-yard Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway, N.J. Karlsson's 11-over par 82 opening round was the highest 18-hole score of the golfer's collegiate career, which now spans 56 rounds of golf.
Karlsson has shaved more than a half stroke off his freshman year scoring average, as the sophomore enters NCAA postseason play with a team-best 72.6 stroke average. Having strung together one of the best individual seasons in program history, Karlsson has seven Top 10 finishes in 11 events this year.
Karlsson has finished in red figures during four out of seven tournaments this spring, including a career showing at the 2010 Big South Men's Golf Championships.
The Swede posted the fifth-best single round in Big South Championship history with a six-under par 66 on the final day, leapfrogging his way to the top of the leaderboard and capturing individual medalist honors.
By virtue of his individual title at the Big South Men's Golf Championship, the second golfer to do so in program history, Karlsson received an automatic bid to this year's NCAA Men's Golf Regionals.
Karlsson, who was tabbed Big South Men's Golfer of the Year prior to the Big South title event, captured the individual crown with a seven-under par 209 (73-70-66), the second-best 54-hole total in his two-year career on Liberty Mountain.
Karlsson enters the NCAA Regional week with a No. 132 Golfweek individual ranking and a No. 202 listing in the latest Golfstat rankings. He is the No. 4 seeded individual in the field of 75 golfers at the New Haven Regional.
McKay (Fr., Jacksonville, Fla.) will be making his NCAA postseason collegiate debut this weekend, after capping off a stellar first year with Liberty by being named Big South Freshman of the Year. McKay is the second golfer in program history to claim the conference honor, following Karlsson's lead from the previous season.
McKay was Liberty's top ranked golfer heading into the Big South Men's Golf Championship, but Karlsson's championship-level play helped the elder golfer to overtake McKay in the team stroke rankings.
McKay comes into the week with a 73.0 stroke average, thanks to six Top 10 finishes and three Top 5 finishes during his inaugural run at Liberty.
McKay's best showing of the year came during the Flames' final fall event, when the rookie posted a blistering 14-under par 202 at the Renaissance Invitational. He finished tied for second in the Xavier-hosted event, which was contested at the Club at Renaissance in Fort Myers, Fla.
McKay posted a Top 10 finish in four out of seven spring events, culminating in a share of fourth place at the Big South Men's Golf Championship. He posted a one-over par 217 (78-69-70), helping the Flames secure a third-place team finish at the event.
McKay comes into the week as the Big South's top rated individual golfer according to Golfstat, as the rookie ranks No. 106 in the latest rankings, while he is listed at No. 229 in the last Golfweek individual rankings. McKay is the No. 1 seeded individual golfer in the New Haven Regional.
Karlsson and McKay are slated to tee off on Thursday morning, along with players from No. 13 seed Columbia and No. 14 seed Lafayette. Columbia and Lafayette both captured their league titles to earn a spot in the field, doing so in the Ivy and Patriot Leagues, respectively.
Karlsson is scheduled to tee off at 9:50 a.m., while McKay will be in the final pair sent off the No. 1 tee at The Course at Yale at 10:20 a.m.