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NCAA Men's Golf National Championship Notes

May 29, 2012
|  Pacific Palisades, Calif.
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Ian McConnell will be one of five Flames who will looking looking to help Liberty capture its first-ever NCAA Division I team national championship.

2012 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship Notes

The Event
No. 14 seed Liberty will join 29 other regional qualifying teams at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship, May 29 – June 3, at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The event will open up with 54 holes of stroke play during the first three days of competition, narrowing the field down to the Top 8. The final eight programs will face each other in three additional rounds of match play, ultimately leading to a new national champion crowned on June 3.

NCAA National Newcomers
No. 14 seed Liberty is making its first-ever appearance at the NCAA Men's Golf National Championship this year at the Riviera Country Club. The Flames have qualified for four NCAA Regionals in program history, earning at-large bids in 2003 and 2006, and automatic berths in 2011 and 2012 after capturing the Big South Men's Golf Championship title.

Liberty's NCAA Regional History:
2003 (At-Large) – NCAA East Regional – T24th out of 27 teams (312?307?311?930/66?over par)
2006 (At-Large) – NCAA East Regional – 22nd out of 27 teams (310?303?304?917/53?over par)
2011 (Automatic Bid) – NCAA Arizona Regional – 10th out of 14 teams (280?292?288?860/eight?over par)
2012 (Automatic Bid) – NCAA Greensboro Regional – 1st out of 14 teams (283-293-292-868/four-over par)

Defending Champions
Liberty successfully defended its first-ever Big South title in April, as the Flames won the 2012 Big South Men's Golf Championship in record fashion. The Flames carded a 20-under par 844 (280-275-289) at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety Six, S.C., April 16-18, 2012. In 2011, Liberty claimed the program's first-ever Big South title at the same course, with an eight-under par 856 (290-277-289), winning by 31 strokes over Gardner-Webb to post the conference's second-largest margin of victory at a championship event.

First of their Kind
Liberty became the first program in Big South Conference history to capture an NCAA Regional title when the Flames fended off Florida to win the NCAA Greensboro Regional by three strokes, May 17-19. Coastal Carolina is the only other school in Big South history to advance to the NCAA Men's Golf National Championship, accomplishing the feat in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The Chanticleer's best finish was in 2007, when Coastal Carolina finished in fifth place in Williamsburg, Va., and was led by five-time PGA Tour winner Dustin Johnson.

Well Represented
No. 14 seed Liberty is not the only Big South representative at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championship at the Riviera Country Club. Campbell's Vaita Guillaume, SMU's Matt Schovee and Liberty's Robert Karlsson finished the NCAA Greensboro tied for first place individually, each carding a three-under par 213. Guillaume was able to defeat Schovee on the first playoff hole, sending this year's Big South Golfer of the Year to Pacific Palisades, Calif., to join Liberty at the national championship event to compete as an individual.

Nine is Nice
Liberty enters the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship having led the last nine consecutive rounds of golf the team has competed in, leading to three straight team titles. The Flames were the wire-to-wire winners at the River Landing Intercollegiate (April 6-7), Big South Men's Golf Championship (April 16-18) and the NCAA Greensboro Regional (May 17-19). The Flames have played their last nine rounds of golf at a combined 34-under par.

Liberty's Last Three Tournaments:
River Landing Intercollegiate (River Landing GC/Wallace, N.C.) – 283-285-278-846 (-18)
Big South Men's Golf Championship (The Patriot GC/Ninety Six., S.C.) – 280-275-289-844 (-20)
NCAA Greensboro Regional (Grandover Resort/Greensboro, N.C.) – 283-293-292-868 (+4)

Underclassmen Upside
Four of the five players on head coach Jeff Thomas' starting five list for the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championship will be underclassmen, including three sophomores (Chase Marinell, Niklas Lindstrom and Ian McConnell) and one freshman (Mathieu Fenasse). Liberty's upperclassmen on its starting five list is senior Robert Karlsson.

International Flavor
Five players on Liberty's 12-man team roster hail from outside the United States, including three players who will be among Liberty's starting five at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship. Liberty has two players from Sweden (Robert Karlsson, Niklas Lindstrom) and one player from France (Mathieu Fenasse), South Korea (David Jeh) and Australia (Bobin Kang).

National Level Success
Success on the national level is no stranger for student-athletes from Liberty, as the athletics program has produced six individual national champions (track & field) and a Sweet 16 women's basketball program (2005).

NCAA Division I Individual National Champions (Track & Field)
Sam Chelanga
• 2009 NCAA Men's Cross Country national champion
• 2010 NCAA Men's Cross Country national champion
• 2010 NCAA Outdoor 10K national champion
• 2011 NCAA Outdoor 5K national champion
Heather Sagan – 2002
• 2002 NCAA Indoor 1 mile national champion
Josh McDougal
• 2007 NCAA Men's Cross Country national champion

Women's Basketball
• 2005 Sweet 16 – NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament
• Upset No. 4 Penn State and No. 5 DePaul to advance to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 round

Head Coach Jeff Thomas – By the Numbers
(Liberty, '95)
Years on Staff at Liberty: 10 years
Years at Head Coach: 8 years
Team Tournament Victories: 9
Individual Medalist Victories: 14
Big South Coach of the Year: 2 (2010 and 2011)
Big South Team Titles: 2 (2011 and 2012)
Big South All-Conference Members: 13
Big South Golfers of the Year: 2 (Robert Karlsson: 2010, 2011)
Big South Freshman of the Year: 3 (Robert Karlsson, 2009, Max McKay, 2010, Chase Marinell, 2011)
Big South Championship Medalist: 3 (Robert Karlsson, 2010 and 2012, Preston Dembowiak, 2011)
NCAA Regional Appearances as Head Coach: 3 (2006, 2011, 2012)
NCAA National Championship Appearances as Head Coach: 1 (2012)
Va. State Golf Coaches Assoc. Coach of the Year: 1 (2011)
GCAA Dave Williams Award Finalist: 1 (2011)
GCAA/Srixon All-America Scholars: 5

Starting Five Flames Facts

Robert Karlsson (Sr./Kalmar, Sweden)
Average: 71.5 (Season), 72.0 (Career)
• Two-Time Big South Golfer of the Year (2010, 2011)
• Two-Time Big South Championship Medalist (2010, 2012)
• Four-Time Big South All-Conference (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
• 2009 Big South Freshman of the Year
• Rankings: Golfweek – No. 25, Golfstat –No. 33
• World Amateur Golf Ranking: No. 18
• Two-time member of the European Palmer Cup team (2011, 2012)
• Has finished Top 10 in 31 out of 45 career events (27 Top 5 finishes)
• Has finished Top 10 in 10 out of 12 events during the 2011-12 season (8 Top 5 finishes)
• Has finished in first place his last two events (Big South Men's Golf Championship and NCAA Greensboro Regional)
• Has played his last nine rounds of golf at a combined 19-under par, including six rounds below 70 and seven out of nine rounds below par
• Has posted 12 sub-70 rounds this season (out of 34 total rounds)
• Four time NCAA Regional participant (2009 and 2010 as an at-large invitation, 2011 and 2012 with Liberty's team automatic berth)

Chase Marinell (So./Fort Myers, Fla.)
Average: 73.8 (Season), 73.3 (Career)
• 2011 Big South Freshman of the Year
• Rankings: Golfweek – No. 213, Golfstat –No. 203
• 2012 Big South All-Conference
• Third on the team with a 73.8 stroke average in 2011-12
• Has finished Top 10 in five out of 11 events during the 2011-12 season (1 Top 5 finish)
• Has played his last nine rounds of golf a combined six-under par, including four sub-par rounds
• Finished under-par in three tournaments in 2011-12
• Posted eight rounds at par or better in 2011-12
• Helped Liberty clinch its second Big South title in a row with a fifth-place finish (four-under par 212)
• Finished tied for seventh at the NCAA Greensboro with a one-over par 217

Ian McConnell (So./Riverview, Fla.)
Average: 73.9 (Season), 74.1 (Career)
• Rankings: Golfweek – No. 243, Golfstat –No. NA
• Ranks fourth on the team with a 73.9 stroke average this season
• Posted a pair of Top 10 finishes in 2011-12
• Posted 10 rounds at par or better in 2011-12
• One of two players to play in all 12 team events in 2011-12
• Has played five of his last nine rounds of golf at par or better

Niklas Lindstrom (So./Kalmar, Sweden)
Average: 73.1 (Season), 74.1 (Career)
• Rankings: Golfweek – No. 238, Golfstat –No. 193
• 2012 Big South All-Conference
• Ranks second on the team with a 73.1 stroke average
• Has four Top 10 finishes in 2011-12 (3 Top 5 finishes)
• Captured his first collegiate title with a five-under par 139 at the Trojan Fall Classis on Oct. 10-11
• Played 12 rounds at par or better in 2011-12
• Has played his last nine rounds of golf a combined seven-under par
• Posted second-place finish at the River Landing Intercollegiate with a season-best seven-under par 209
• Finished tied for sixth at the Big South Men's Golf Championship with a three-under par 213

Mathieu Fenasse (Fr./Lias, France)
Average: 74.2 (Season), 74.2 (Career)
• Rankings: Golfweek – No. 516, Golfstat –No. NA
• Ranks fifth on the team with a 74.2 stroke average in 2011-12
• Recorded a pair of Top 10 finishes as a freshman (1 Top 5 finish)
• Played eight rounds at par or better in 2011-12, including a final round even par 72 to close out the NCAA Greensboro Regional
• Low 54-hole score of the year was an even par 216 at the River Landing Intercollegiate
• Posted 33 pars during the first 36 holes of the Big South Men's Golf Championship