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Flames to Travel West for Arizona Regional
Following their first-ever Big South Championship three weeks ago, No. 27 Liberty will be traveling to Tucson, Ariz., to participate in the Arizona Regional of the 2011 NCAA Men's Golf Championship, May 19-21.
The Flames will be the No. 5 seed at the 14-team Arizona Regional, which will be contested at the Omni Tucson National Resort. The par-72, 7,094-yard trek has hosted 30 PGA Tour events and was the long-time home of the Tucson Open and the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
Liberty was the fifth of five seeded programs at the Arizona Regional. No. 1 seed Texas A&M leads the 14-program field, followed by No. 2 seed San Diego State, No. 3 seed Texas Tech and No. 4 seed California.
The 54-hole event is slated to begin on May 19, with 18 holes of competition to follow each day. The top five teams at the end of the event, plus the low individual not on one of the top five teams, will advance to the NCAA National Championship May 31-June 5 at the Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.
This marks the third time Liberty has participated in an NCAA Regional, but the first as an automatic qualifier. The Flames earned at-large bids to the NCAA Regionals in 2003 and 2006.
Liberty convincing captured the Big South's automatic bid to this year's NCAA Regionals on April 18-20, at the Patriot Golf Course in Ninety Six, S.C., The Flames posted an eight-under par 856 (290-277-289), helping Liberty win the three-day event by 31 strokes.
Liberty is one of six automatic qualifiers at the Arizona Regional, joining San Diego State (Mountain West), UC-Davis (Big West), Texas-Arlington (Southland), Loyola Maryland (Metro Atlantic Athletic) and Army (Patriot League).
The Flames will be paced by Big South Golfer of the Year Robert Karlsson next week, who will be making his third-straight NCAA Regional trip. Karlsson, currently ranked No. 36 in the country, leads the Flames with a 71.1 stroke average and has seven Top five finishes in 11 events this season.
Max McKay joins Karlsson with previous NCAA Regional experience, as the 2010 Big South Freshman of the Year capped off his rookie season with a postseason trip, last year. At the New Haven Regional, McKay finished tied for 16th place with a one-under par 209 (70-72-67) and Karlsson finished tied for 24th place with a one-over par 211 (66-74-71).
Preston Dembowiak is the veteran on Liberty's roster and the senior is coming off his first collegiate victory. Dembowiak captured medalist honors at the Big South Championship, as he fired a seven-under par 209 (70-66-73), finished ahead of McKay (213) and Karlsson (214).
Coastal Carolina, Liberty's fellow Big South member, was awarded an at-large bid to the Virginia Tech Regional in Radford, Va. This marks the third time in Big South history two conference members will be participating at NCAA Regionals during the same postseason.
Omni Tucson National Resort (Tucson, Ariz.)
Hosted by Arizona
1. Texas A&M
2. San Diego State (Mountain West Conference)
3. Texas Tech
5. Liberty (Big South Conference)
8. Oregon State
10. UC-Davis (Big West Conference)
12. Texas-Arlington (Southland Conference)
13. Loyola Maryland (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)
14. Army (Patriot League)
1. Zachary Blair, Brigham Young
2. Chris Gilbert, Kansas
3. Jason Shufflebottom, UAB
4. Gustaf Kocken, Louisiana-Monroe
5. Will Hogan, Missouri State