Chase Marinell led the Flames by firing a two-under par 211 to finish tied for eighth at the Arizona Intercollegiate, Liberty's first event of the spring season.
No. 18/24 Liberty was unable to keep up its first round pace of play, dropping three spots down the leaderboard during the final two rounds at the Arizona Intercollegiate to finish in sixth place at the team's first event of the spring.
Liberty opened play with a two-under par 282 on Monday, but higher second and third round scores forced the team to post their first non-Top five regular season finish since last spring (seventh place finish at the Linger Longer Invitational – March 24-25, 2012).
The Flames' second round spanned two days, as play was suspended due to darkness late Monday night. Liberty returned to The Golf Club at Vistoso this morning to wrap up a 10-over par 294 second round, which was followed by a closing seven-over par 291 to post an overall 15-over par 867 (282-294-291).
No. 4/5 New Mexico closed play with a three-under par 281 on Tuesday to overtake first round leader TCU and claim the team title in the 15-team tournament field.
New Mexico won the event by two strokes over TCU with an eight-under par 844 (285-278-281), while TCU took second place with a six-under par 846 (280-282-284).
California, who entered the spring ranked No. 1 in both the Golfweek and GolfStat polls, finished third with a five-under par 847 (281-284-282). The result marked the first time during the 2012-13 season the Golden Bears have not finished in first place as a team.
Rounding out the top five programs were Arizona State, who finished fourth with a one-under par 851 (290-275-286) and tournament host Arizona, who edge out the Flames by five strokes with a 10-over par 862 (282-291-289).
A pair of California golfers finished atop the 92-man field with both Michael Kim (70-69-65) and Joe Statler (64-69-70) posting a nine-under par 204.
Liberty's top golfer in the field was Chase Marinell, who finished tied for eighth place with a two-under par 211 (71-70-70). The junior posted his eighth career sub-par tournament total and first of the season thanks in part to offsetting two bogeys with three birdies during the final round of play on the par-71, 6,932-yard course.
Three of Liberty's starting five golfers all finished with identical 54-hole scores, as Mathieu Fenasse, Ian McConnell and Max McKay all posted a seven-par over 220 to share 28th place along with six other golfers. Fenasse (71-76-73) and McConnell (73-74-73) had the better closing rounds, finishing the final round with a one-over par 73.
A tough four-hole stretch that saw McKay (67-78-75) post two bogeys and a double bogey left him in too large deficit to overcome and he finished the first spring tournament of his senior season with a four-over par 75.
Liberty's final golfer in the field was Niklas Lindstrom, who dropped out of a top 30 finish after his round three was plagued with a pair of quadruple bogeys and a closing round seven-over par 78. He finished the tournament tied for 54th place with a 12-over par 225 (73-74-78).
The Flames will have the next week and a half to prepare for their next event, as they will head to Gainesville, Fla., for the Gator Invitational Feb. 9-10. Florida's two-day, 54-hole event will be played at the Gator's home Mark Bostick Golf Course.