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Flames Finish Arizona Regional in 10th Place

May 21, 2011
|  Tucson, Ariz.
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Andrew Colvin was one of two Flames to finish the NCAA Arizona Regional tied for 25th place with a one-over par 214.

No. 5 seed Liberty opened up its third and final round at the NCAA Arizona Regional strong, but could not maintain the momentum, as the Flames eventually finished the event in 10th place on Saturday.

Liberty came into the final round in ninth place and trailing fifth place teams California and Washington by seven strokes. The top five teams at the regional event at the end of the day advanced to the NCAA National Championships in Stillwater, Okla., May 31 – June 5.

Four of Liberty's five golfers opened the event strong, as the Flames started the day off at the par-5, No. 10 hole by carding four birdies. Andrew Colvin followed with his second-straight sub-par score with a birdie three on the par-4, No. 11 hole, while Max McKay stuck one close to the pin and sank a birdie at the uphill, par-3, No. 12 hole to get the Flames to six-under par quickly.

However, Liberty could not maintain the drive, as the team carded 11 bogeys and a triple bogey seven on the par-4, No. 16 hole to make the turn at three-over par.

The Flames back nine, which was holes No. 1-9, at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort turned out to be about individual accomplishments, with three of Liberty's five starters making their mark at the 54-hole event.

Both Colvin and Chase Marinell, the youngest players on Liberty's roster, came into the day leading the squad after posting a one-over par 143 following 36 holes of action.

Colvin maintained his two-under par status following seven holes, but posted bogeys on the par-3, No. 17 and the par-4, No. 18 holes to make the turn at even par.

Marinell followed suite, as the Big South Freshman of the Year posted a bogey four on No. 12, followed by six-straight pars.

Colvin found the cup at the par-4, No. 1 hole in three strokes to quickly get back into red figures on the day. He traded a bogey and birdie on holes No. 4 and 5 to take a one-under par score into No. 9, Liberty's closing hole of the day. After missing the green left, the UCF transfer made a nice chip to put his ball within two feet of the hole, but he could not sink the putt to card his fourth bogey of the day.

Marinell kept his par string alive after making the turn, a run that extended to 13-straight holes. The rookie finally broke the stretch with a birdie four on the par-5, No. 8 hole to get back into red figure. However, just like his teammate, Marinell found trouble on the closing hole, after his approach went long of the elevated green and a testy downhill par putt sailed past the hole.

Colvin (71-72-71) and Marinell (72-71-71) finished the three-day event tied for 25th place with a one-over par 214. The plus-one score allowed the pair to join McKay and Robert Karlsson as the only players in program history to have finished inside the Top 25 at an NCAA Regional event.

Liberty's final noteworthy closing nine came from its eldest player. Senior Preston Dembowiak closed his collegiate career in grand fashion.

The senior was one of the four Liberty players to open the day with a birdie on the par-5, No. 10 hole. After giving a stroke back with a three-putt on No. 12, Dembowiak seemed to steady himself with back-to-back pars.

However, he closed his first nine holes by going bogey-birdie-bogey-bogey, a stretch that included a second-straight drive on No. 18 long into one of the bodies of water flanking either side of the par-71, 7,199-yard closing hole.

After carding consecutive bogeys on holes No. 2 and 3, the senior seems to regroup following a solid two-putt from the backside of the 29-yard deep par-3, No. 4 hole.

He followed with a 15-foot birdie from below the hole at the par-4, No. 5 hole and back-to-back birdies on his final two collegiate holes. After running through the green in two at the par-5, No. 8 hole, the senior was able to get up and down for his fourth birdie of the day.

On No. 9, his final hole as a Flame, the senior cleared the water right off the tee to set up a perfect wedge to within three feet on No. 9, which Dembowiak sank to finish off his one-over par 71 round. For the event, this year's Big South Championship individual medalist finished tied for 34th place with a three-over par 216 (67-77-72).

McKay and Karlsson, Liberty's most experienced NCAA Regional golfers, could not rekindle last year's magic that saw them finish tied for 16th and 24th, respectively, at the NCAA Yale Regional.

McKay finished the day with a three-over par 74, one that included a string of five-straight bogeys, five birdies and a double bogey. The sophomore finished the event tied for 61st place with a 10-over par 223 (74-75-74).

Karlsson, who was making his third-straight NCAA Regional showing, ended the event tied for 55th with an eight-over par 221 (70-74-77).

The two-time Big South Golfer of the Year could not get anything going for the second day in a row, as he finished the last 36 holes of the Arizona Regional without a birdie.

As a team, Liberty finished the event in 10th place with an eight-over par 860 (280-292-288). The Flames finished 16 shots behind Pepperdine and host Arizona, who claimed the final two national qualifying spots with an eight-under par 844.

Arizona, playing on its home course sealed its trip to Stillwater, Okla., in spectacular fashion. Tarquin MacManus birding three of the last four holes and Juan Pablo Hernandez added one of his own on the last to help Arizona edge out Washington (seven-under par 845) for the 14-team field's final national qualifier.

San Diego State led the three-day event wire-to-wire and captures its seventh team title of the season with a 19-under par 833 (278-278-277). Texas A&M finished second with a 12-under par 840 (281-282-277) and California finished third with a nine-under par 843 (286-279-278).

UC Davis' Matt Hansen and Oregon State's Alex Moore continued their battle for individual medalist honors during the final 18 holes of action.

The pair held the top two spots on the leaderboard each of the first two days, with Hansen winning the battle with the three-under par 68 on the final day. Hansen finished atop the 75-man leaderboard with a nine-under par 204 (64-72-68), followed by Moore's seven-under par 206 (66-69-71).

The tournament brings to a close the most successful season in program history. Liberty came into the event ranked No. 27 in the country in the latest Golfweek rankings and No. 30 according to Golfstat.

The Flames finished the season with top three finishes in 10 out of 12 events, including their first-ever Big South title last month with a 31-stroke victory at The Patriot Golf Club.