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Flames Head to Familiar Event Hosted by USC Aiken

March 4, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Max McKay fired an even par 210 at last year's Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate, helping him to a fourth-place finish.

The Flames are set to return to a site where they have had much success in recent years. Liberty will return to the golf links on Monday and Tuesday for the 14th annual Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate.

The 54-hole event is hosted by USC Aiken, ranked No. 20 in the latest Golfstat Division II listing, at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C. The par-70, 6,565-yard trek is recognized as the fourth-oldest golf course in the United States. The course opened in 1892 with four holes, where current holes No. 16, 17 and 18 and the driving range now stand.

Liberty has played in the last two installments of this event, posting a second-place showing in 2009 and finishing fourth at last year's event. During its six rounds at the 54-hole event, Liberty has posted a 290.67 team stroke average, aided by a trio of three-over par 283 rounds.

Robert Karlsson has had the most individual success for the Flames in both events, having posted four out of his six rounds in red figures (69.5 stroke average). The junior finished second last year with a two-under par 208 (69-70-69) and captured the first of his three collegiate victories and medalist honors with a one-under par 209 in 2009 (67-73-69).

Additionally, Max McKay had his second-best tournament finish at last year's event, as the sophomore finished tied for fourth place with an even par 210 (71-65-74).

The 2010 Big South Freshman of the Year posted a five-under par 65 during last year's second round at the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate, which is tied for the third-best 18-hole total in program history.

Rounding out Liberty's finishers at last year's tournament were Preston Dembowiak, who finished tied for 42nd with a 14-over par 224 (70-75-79), Jordan Frye, who finished tied for 54th place with an 18-over par 228 (73-73-82) and Stephen Dooley, who was tied for 75th place with a 24-over par 234 (75-78-81).

Dembowiak also played in the 2009 event for the Flames, finishing tied for 33rd place with a 13-over par 223 (72-73-78), giving the sophomore a 74.5 stroke average at this golf link.

This year's 18-team field includes some of the best collegiate programs in the country. The field features 10 programs currently ranked inside the Top 100, including six Top 50 programs.

Spotlighting the field are No. 3 Alabama and No. 17 Virginia. The Crimson Tide is one of the hottest programs in the country, as Alabama was recently named the Golfweek Team of the Week after capturing the tournament title at the Puerto Rico Classic. In total, Alabama has won three of the five team events on its 2010-11 schedule.

Likewise, Virginia is also coming off some recent record-setting success, finishing third at the Burns Intercollegiate in Kahuku, Hawaii, two weeks ago. The Cavaliers closed the 54-hole event with a 19-under par 269, marking the lowest 18-hole team total in program history.

Virginia's Ben Kohles, ranked No. 25 in the country, bested Texas A&M's John Hurley on the second playoff hole to capture his fifth collegiate individual medalist honor.

Another of Kohles' five collegiate victories came at last year's Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate, as the Cavalier golfer posted a five-under par 205 (70-63-72). He finished three strokes ahead of Liberty's Karlsson, who is currently ranked No. 40 in the latest Golfstat individual rankings.

In total, the field could feature 17 golfers who are currently ranked inside the Top 250 by Golfstat, led by Alabama's six nationally ranked golfers. The Crimson Tide currently has four of the top six ranked golfers that could appear in this weekend's field, including No. 5 Bobby Wyatt, No. 13 Bud Cauley, No. 19 Cory Whitsett and No. 64 Hunter Hamrick.

Liberty is the third-best ranked program in the field at No. 40, followed by No. 41 Clemson, No. 46 Chattanooga and No. 58 East Carolina.

Chattanooga and host USC Aiken have had a stranglehold on the team title at this event in recent years. The Mocs, who also won the title in 2008, are the defending champion after carding a 15-over par 855 (285-277-293). The Pacers have captured the team title in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The 18-team field will take to the tees at the Palmetto Golf Club for 36 holes of action on Monday, followed by the closing 18 holes of action on Tuesday.

14th Annual Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate
(Golfstat Team Rankings)
Akron (No. 113)
Alabama (No. 3)
Chattanooga (No. 46)
Clemson (No. 41)
College of Charleston (No. 93)
East Carolina (No. 58)
Elon (No. 156)
Francis Marion (No. 220)
Furman (No. 126)
Georgia Southern (No. 152)
Kentucky (No. 96)
Liberty (No. 40)
Maryland (No. 97)
Presbyterian College (Not ranked)
USC Aiken (No. 20 – Division II)
Vanderbilt (No. 69)
Virginia (No. 17)
Wofford (No. 134)

Potential Top 250 Individually Ranked Golfers in the Field
(Golfstat Individual Rankings)
No. 5 – Bobby Wyatt (Alabama)
No. 13 – Bud Cauley (Alabama)
No. 19 – Cory Whitsett (Alabama)
No. 25 – Ben Kohles (Virginia)
No. 40 – Robert Karlsson (Liberty)
No. 64 – Hunter Hamrick (Alabama)
No. 86 – Amory Davis (Virginia)
No. 107 – Trey Mullinax (Alabama)
No. 111 – Will Collins (Virginia)
No. 129 – Corbin Mills (Clemson)
No. 141 – Harold Varner (East Carolina)
No. 147 – Stephen Jaeger (Chattanooga)
No. 186 – Steven Fox (Chattanooga)
No. 199 – Davis Bunn (Chattanooga)
No. 222 – Scott Strohmeyer (Alabama)
No. 228 – Ben Rusch (Virginia)
No. 244 – Matthew Broome (Furman)

Division II Rankings for USC Aiken
No. 31 – Hayden Letien
No. 144 – Matt Atkins

Course Information:
Palmetto Golf Club
(Aiken, S.C.)
Par 70, 6,565 yards