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Flames Fall Back After NCAA Second Round
No. 5 seed Liberty posted its highest second round total of the spring season, falling six spots down the leaderboard following second-round action at the 2011 NCAA Arizona Regional on Friday.
Liberty carded an eight-over par 292, falling from its third-place standing after the first round down to ninth after 36 holes of action at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort. Only two other teams carded higher scores during second round regional action, with Loyola-Maryland posting a 14-over par 298 and Purdue carding a 17-over par 301.
Liberty, who currently ranks No. 27/30 in the country, will have its work cut out for itself during tomorrow's final round action. The Flames will need to leapfrog four programs during the last round of the 54-hole event in order to advance to its first-ever NCAA National Championship.
The top five teams at the end of the three-day 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.
No. 2 seed San Diego State widened its lead on the day, as the Aztecs posted their second-straight six-under par 278. San Diego State, who has won six tournaments already this season, leads the 14-team field by five strokes heading into the final round on Saturday with a 12-under par 556.
Host Arizona, who came into the event as the No. 11 seed, used its local knowledge at the par-71, 7,199-yard course to move into second place. The Wildcats posted a four-under par 280 on Friday and has a 36-hole seven-under par 561 total.
No. 1 seed Texas A&M is in third place with a five-under par 563 (281-282), while a strong opening nine helped No. 7 seed Pepperdine make the largest move up the second-round leaderboard to take fourth place with a four-under par 564 (284-280).
No. 4 seed California (286-279) and No. 6 seed Washington (279-286) are both clinging to the final national qualifying spot, as the pair share fifth place with a three-under par 565. Liberty trails the 36-hole mark of California and Washington by seven strokes, as the Flames are in ninth place with a four-over par 572 (280-292).
The top two spots on the individual leaderboard belong to players from teams who are not in contention for the team title. Oregon State's Alex Moore posted his second sub-70 round to lead the 75-man field with a seven-under par 135 (66-69). He is followed on the leaderboard by UC Davis' Matt Hansen, the first round leader, with a six-under par 136 (64-72).
Liberty's top two golfers on the day were the youngest on its roster, as freshman Chase Marinell (71-72) and sophomore Andrew Colvin (72-71) find themselves both tied for 24th place with a one-over par 143.
The Flames struggled out of the gates, making the turn tied for seventh place at four-over par. Colvin and Marinell found themselves adding to Liberty's over-par total, as a pair of double bogeys during the opening nine by Colvin had the UCF transfer at three-over par and Marinell was one-over par after a pair of bogeys.
However, the two carded a combined five birdies on the back nine to climb up the individual leaderboard. The pair matched each other with both posting birdies on the par-4, No. 14 and the par-5, No. 15 holes.
By the end of the day, Colvin posted a one-over par 72, while Big South Freshman of the Year Marinell carded his first career even par round at an NCAA event with a 71.
Robert Karlsson, Liberty's top ranked golfer at No. 36 in the country, struggled to get anything going on the day. The two-time Big South Golfer of the Year offset three bogeys with 15 pars to post a three-over par 74 and stands tied for 30th place with a two-over par 144 (70-74).
Karlsson is tied with fellow teammate Preston Dembowiak (67-77), as both players find themselves with an aggregate two-over par 144 with 36 holes recorded on the score sheet.
Dembowiak could not rekindle the same magic he found on holes No. 1-9 as he did during the opening round on Thursday. Playing as his closing nine holes yesterday, Dembowiak finished with four birdies to post a four-under par score during the opening round.
Today was a different story, as the Big South medalist missed four out of the first five fairways that led to bogeys on holes No. 2, 3, 4 and 5.
On the par-5, No. 8 hole, Dembowiak was long and right of the green in two, but his chip up left him in a place that would lead to his only three putt of the day and saw the senior make the turn with a five-over par 40 on his scorecard.
Trouble off the tee at the par-5, No. 10 hole found Dembowiak again. An errant tee shot to the right saw him have to deal with trees during two shots that would lead to his sixth bogey on the round.
Dembowiak regrouped and started to right the ship, sticking a short wedge within 12 feet at the par-4, No. 11 hole to sink his first birdie of the day. Another long drive on the par-4, No. 14 hole set up a wedge to the back pin placement and Dembowiak seemed to have things rolling in the right direction with a second birdie in five holes.
However, Dembowiak's loose tee shots on the closing two holes would cost the senior two strokes. This forced him to sign a scoreboard with a six-over par 77, his highest single round since carding an opening-round 78 at the Seahawk Classic back in February.
On the No. 17 hole, Dembowiak became the third Flame on the day to find the greenside bunker that guarded the entire left side of the par-3.
On the closing hole, one that was considered one of the toughest during the 30 times Tucson National hosted a PGA Tour event, Dembowiak flew his drive long into the water and he could not land his ball on the narrowing 50-yard wide strip of short grass. The errant shot would lead to his eighth bogey of the day.
Max McKay, Liberty's final member of its NCAA Regional starting five, gave the Flames hope early on, as the sophomore carded birdies on holes No. 1, 3 and 8 to get to three-under par. However, bogeys on the closing holes of both sides, plus a double-bogey on No. 13 and a triple bogey on No. 15 led to a four-over par 75. McKay will enter the final round tied for 58th place with a seven-over par 149 (74-75).
The Flames will have a chance to set the tone early on tomorrow, as Liberty, along with Texas Tech and Oregon State will be the first groups off the No. 10 tee, starting at 7:30 a.m. (PST).
Liberty will look to ignite the same spark that led to its opening-day, four-under par 280, one that began with the Flames teeing off the back nine on Thursday.
Texas Tech, the No. 3 seed, will enter the final round five shots ahead of Liberty with a one-under par 567 (283-284), while Oregon State, the No. 8 seed, is three shots clear of the Flames with a one-over par 569 (284-285).
NCAA Arizona Regional Quotes:
Head Coach Jeffrey Thomas, Liberty"We struggled a bit. Chase (Marinell) played well, but some of the others struggled. We just need to be more consistent going into the final round."
Chase Marinell, Liberty
"Today went well. It was a better start than yesterday. Yesterday I had to battle back, but today I was in a good mood the whole day. The course isn't too easy, and there are so many good players out here. As a freshman, I think I'm doing pretty well."
Andrew Colvin, Liberty
"I had a rough front nine, but I came back on the back nine. I just stayed patient and I knew I needed to make some birdies. I knew where my team was at. I just trusted myself and had confidence that my putts would fall. I played pretty well yesterday and today."