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Karlsson and McKay Both Post Top 25 Finishes
Both Max McKay and Robert Karlsson posted improved scores during Saturday's final round at the 2010 NCAA New Haven Regional, helping the pair of Liberty golfers post Top 25 finishes at the men's golf regional event.
After bogeying a hole early, McKay (Fr., Jacksonville, Fla.) strung together three-straight, sub-par holes before making the turn and then posted a solid back nine to record a three-under par 67. The Saturday round marks the 16th time the Big South Freshman of the Year has been at par or below during his first collegiate season.
With the three-under par round, McKay was able to climb up 14 spots on the leaderboard to post a three-day, aggregate one-under par 209 (70-72-67). The finish helped him share 16th place along with No. 27 Bobby Hudson of Texas, No. 41 Gregor Main of UCLA, Iowa State's Ben Herrera and Virginia's Henry Smart.
McKay becomes the eighth golfer in Big South Conference history to break par at an NCAA Men's Golf Regional event, with three of the previous seven performances being recorded by former Coastal Carolina standout and current PGA Tour member Dustin Johnson.
Karlsson (So., Kalmar, Sweden) had his lone three putt of the day on his second hole for bogey, the par-4, No. 11, but was able to get the shot back five holes later.
The Big South Golfer of the Year hit a stinging second shot that the nearly reached the par-5, No. 16 hole in two, and after getting up and down from just on the front of the green, the sophomore was able to level par.
Karlsson was nearly able to recover from an errant tee shot on the par-4, No. 4 hole that found the right-side hazard. A solid five iron left him less than 20 feet below the hole and the lengthy par try just burned the left edge of the cut, forcing Karlsson to settle for a bogey.
The closely missed putt was the theme of the day for the sophomore, as he closed out his round by two-putting the final 11 holes en route to a one-over par 71 and a one-over par 211 at the NCAA event (66-74-71).
During the final round of the event, Karlsson hit 9-of-14 fairways, 14-of-18 greens and finished the day with 35 total putts on The Course at Yale, which was a par-70, 6,749 yard trek.
Karlsson's one-over par 211 helped him finish in a tie for 24th place, along with Kent State's Mackenzie Hughes, Virginia's Will Collins and Kyle Stough and Alabama's Hunter Hamrick.
The share of 24th place was a marked improvement for Karlsson over his first go around at an NCAA Regional event. Just shortly after winning Big South Freshman of the Year honors, last year, Karlsson finished tied for 55th place after posting an 18-over par 231 (82-76-73) at the NCAA East Regional hosted at the Galloway National Golf Course in Galloway, N.J.
McKay and Karlsson became the first golfers in program history to post Top 25 finishes at an NCAA Regional event. Prior to today's postings, Liberty's best showing at an NCAA Regional was by Peter Horstman (76-77-76) and Albie Powers (78-74-77), who both posted 13-over par 229s at the 2003 NCAA East Regional in Orlando, Fla., at the Lake Non Golf Club.
No. 7 Texas (274-281-280) and Kent State (277-278-280) both shared the No. 1 spot atop the team Regional leaderboard with a five-under par 835.
No. 6 UCLA (282-281-273) finished third with a four-under par 836, Penn State took fourth with a three-under par 837 (277-283-277) and No. 19 Virginia secure the last and final NCAA national team qualifier by finishing fifth with a two-over par 843 (282-283-278).
East Tennessee State's Rhys Enoch (65-68-70) and Penn State's T.J. Howe (69-68-66) both shared medalist honors with seven-under par 203, with Enoch getting the individual qualifier honor to the NCAA national championship event.
The event brings to a close to the most successful season in Liberty program history. The Flames entered the week ranked No. 88 in the latest Golfweek collegiate team rankings, Liberty's highest team ranking in program history at the conclusion of the season.
Both McKay and Karlsson are set to return to the program next year, along with all the members of the team that helped Liberty secure a No. 2 seed at this year's Big South Men's Golf Championship.