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Program Best Helps Flames Finish Third
Liberty fired a program-best 271 to climb into third place in the final round of the Golfweek Conference Challenge, Tuesday afternoon, at the Flames' season-opening event held at the Spirit Hollow Golf Course.
Liberty was five shots better than any team in the 15-team field, which includes 12 programs that finished inside the Golfweek Top 75 rankings last year. The round marked the best 18-hole team score in program history, bettering the previous record of 277 shot during the third round of the James Madison Invitational on Oct. 11, 2005.
The 17-under par total allowed Liberty to leapfrog over several programs and finish the event in third place with a nine-under par 855 (289-295-271). The 54-hole total is the second best in program history, ranking only behind an 837 during the same James Madison Invitational in 2005 and an 849 in last year's Renaissance Invitational.
Finishing ahead of the Flames was event host Iowa, who bested the field by 15 strokes. The Hawkeyes took first place with a 31-under par 833 (268-285-280), followed by second-place finisher N.C. State, who posted a 16-under par 848 (283-289-276).
A pair of Hawkeye players finished atop the individual leaderboard, as Chris Brant (64-75-67) and Vince India (70-66-70) both posted a 10-under par 206. N.C. State's Brandon Detweiler finished in third place with a nine-under par 207 (69-71-67).
Robert Karlsson was one of four Liberty golfers to break par on the day and helped the Flames to their record-setting day. The junior, who was last year's Big South Golfer of the Year, posted a five-under par 67 today and finished the event with a five-under par 211 (71-73-67), which put him into a three-way share for sixth place.
Karlsson finished the final 18 holes of play with seven birdies and two bogeys, including under-par scores on four of his last five holes of play.
Preston Dembowiak was the low golfer in the field of 75 during the final round of play, as the senior fired a career-best six-under par 66. With the career round, Dembowiak finished the event tied for ninth place with a four-under par 212 (72-74-66).
After posting three birdies and three bogeys during the opening seven holes of play, Dembowiak finished the day with six birdies during the remainder of his round. The 66 is tied for the fifth-best 18-hole total in program history.
The third Flame to light up the par-72, 7,360 course was Max McKay, who followed Karlsson with a five-under par 67, thanks to four birdies and an eagle three on the par-5, No. 18 closing hole. The 67 helped last year's Big South Freshman of the Year finish the season-opening event in a share of 33rd place with a four-over par 220 (76-77-67).
Liberty's final two golfers in the event were a pair of freshman, with Chase Marinell finishing his first collegiate event tied for 21st place with a one-under par 215 (73-71-71) and Ian McConell finished tied for 45th place with an eight-over par 224 (73-79-72).
Marinell broke par for the second day in row, thanks to the Fort Myers, Fla., native birdying three of his first six holes and his closing hole, the par-4 No. 7 hole.
McConnell was able to post his first collegiate round at level par, as the rookie offset three bogeys with a birdie on the par-5, No. 4 hole and an eagle on the closing No. 18 par-5 hole.
The Flames will remain much closer to home for their next event, as Liberty will travel across the Commonwealth to participate in the VCU Shootout next Monday and Tuesday. The two-day, 54-hole event will be contested at the Hermitage Country Club in Manakin-Sabot, Va.
Liberty did not compete in last year's VCU Shootout as a team, but Karlsson did compete as an individual, where he posted a 16-over par 232 (76-77-79) to finish in a tie for 67th place.