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Flames Remain in Contention Following NCAA First Round
Despite dropping several shots during its closing run of holes on Tuesday, No. 14 seed Liberty remains in the hunt following the first round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship.
Liberty shares 15th place with four other programs after carding an 11-over par 295. The Flames share the middle spot in the 30-team field with Georgia, California, Illinois and East Carolina.
Alabama was able to circle the par-71, 7,292-yard Riviera Country Club with a one-over par 285 and leads Florida and Auburn by three strokes. The Gators and the Tigers, who finished the first day with a four-over par 288, were two programs Liberty bested at the NCAA Greensboro Regional, May 17-19.
UCLA and Oklahoma are tied for fourth place with a five-over par 289, while five programs share sixth place with a six-over par 290. Texas, the nation's top ranked team, along with Iowa, Florida State, North Florida and UCF each share the coveted position.
Following the completion of 54 holes of play on Thursday, the top eight programs will advance to three rounds of match play that will eventually determine this year's NCAA Men's Golf National Champion.
The Flames will enter the middle round of the stroke play portion of the national championship five shots shy of the match play cut line.
Competing in the final five groups to be sent off the No. 10 tee on Tuesday, Liberty finished its closing holes after the sun had gone down behind the historic Riviera clubhouse. During its final holes, played with shadows on the green and fading sunlight, Liberty's counting four golfers dropped a combined four shots on their last two holes.
Chase Marinell led the Flames during the first round, carding an even par 71 to share 13th place with 14 other golfers, who finished the first 18 holes of this year's national championship at level par.
Ian McConnell posted a three-over par 74 and is tied for 62nd place, while Robert Karlsson and Mathieu Fenasse are one shot behind McConnell after a four-over par 75, sharing 81st place. Niklas Lindstrom posted an 11-over par 83 on Monday to round out Liberty's five golfers in the field.
A dozen players were able to finish in red figures on Tuesday, with UCLA's Anton Arboleda leading the pack with a four-under par 67. Kent State's Corey Conners and Florida's Tyler McCumber share second place with a three-under par 68, while six golfers finished with a two-under par 69.
Marinell, Liberty's leading golfer after the opening round, got behind quickly, as he bogeyed holes No. 13 and 14, his fourth and fifth holes of the day. However, the sophomore quickly got the shots back with consecutive birdies on No. 16 and 17, including a near hole-in-one on the par 3, 166-yard hole.
Marinell managed to find red figures twice during his second set of nine holes with birdies on No. 1 and 4. But Marinell followed with bogeys on No. 2 and 6 before closing with three straight pars to round out his even par day.
McConnell was the first Flame to post a score below par on the day. Following three consecutive up-and-down pars to open his day, McConnell hit his first green of the afternoon at No. 13 where he drained a 20-foot downhill putt to get to one-under par.
However, McConnell quickly gave the shot back on the following hole, the par 3 No. 14, as he was not able to find the cup in two from just off the back of the green.
Two holes later, McConnell dropped his second shot of the day on his second par 3, after missing the green right that is completely surrounded by bunker.
After missing the green left on the home No. 18 hole, McConnell looked like he might make the turn over par. But the sophomore was able to chip in from the fringe to close his opening nine holes at even par.
McConnell had chances to drop shots at No. 1 and 2, but he missed short birdie putts that left his score at even par. He looked like he would give another stroke back after finding the front right bunker at No. 3, but McConnell was able to sink an 18-foot putt to maintain his position.
McConnell was able to hit the next two greens in regulation, but left himself with lengthy cross-green putts that he would three-putt to drop two shots in succession.
McConnell looked like he might get one of the shots back after getting within 15 feet on the par 4, No. 8 hole, but the sophomore would three-putt after shadows on the green caused him to misread the break in two consecutive putts.
McConnell finished the day hitting 12-of-14 fairways, 9-of-18 greens in regulation and 29 total putts.
Karlsson found his first nine holes at Riviera to be challenging, where he carded three bogeys, a double bogey on No. 18 and a birdie on No. 17.
The two-time Big South Golfer of the Year quickly shaved three strokes off his score during his first two holes on the front nine after an eagle on No. 1 and a birdie on No. 2.
His score remained the same until Karlsson's last two holes. He posted a bogey on No. 8 and plugged a ball on the lip on the front bunker at No. 9 and would finish out his day with a double bogey on his last hole.
Fenasse was one of Liberty's most stable golfers throughout the day, making the turn at two-over par after bogeys on No. 13 and No. 18.
Following a par at the par-5, No. 1 opening hole, the freshman followed with three straight bogeys on holes No. 2, 3 and 4 before posting his first birdie of the day on the 199-yard par 3 No. 6 hole.
Lindstrom opened with four straight pars before recording a bogey on No. 14. A double bogey on No. 16, his first of three double bogeys on the day, set the tone for his final 13 holes of play, leading to his highest 18-hole score in two years with the Flames.
The Flames will have a different look at the Riviera Country Club during their second round, as they will be one of the first teams off the tee during the morning flight.
Starting once again with Fenasse at 8:40 a.m., Liberty's golfers will return to the No. 10 tee in 10-minute intervals until Karlsson closes Liberty's golfers with a 9:20 a.m. tee time.
Live scoring will be provided throughout the NCAA Men's Golf Championship by Golfstat.com, while Liberty will continue its social media coverage of the golf team through its Twitter feed.
@LibertyFlames will be providing detailed coverage for one of Liberty's golfers each day throughout the NCAA Championship. Due to NCAA policies on live blogging, @LibertyFlames will be more limited on how many updates it can provide throughout the round.