Ian McConnell is one of three Flames that will returning to the home state for this weekend's SunTrust Gator Invitational.
Following a season-opening West Coast swing, Liberty's golf team returns to more familiar territory when they compete in the 2013 SunTrust Gator Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.
No. 23/31 Liberty (Golfweek/Golfstat) opened the spring season with a sixth-place showing at the Arizona Intercollegiate. The Flames fired a 15-over par 867 (282-294-291) and had their first regular season finish outside the top five since last March.
This will be the second year in a row the Flames have competed at this event, which will be played on Florida's campus course – the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Fla. (par 70, 6,701 yards).
Last year, the Flames finished in sixth place with a 38-over par 878 (290-288-300), with Auburn winning the team title by 16 strokes (+8/848) over Arkansas (+24/864).
This year's 14-team field includes eight teams that qualified for the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championship, highlighted by host Florida. The Gators are ranked No. 5 in the latest Golfweek ranking and No. 3 by Golfstat.
The event will kick off the spring portion of the Gators' schedule after a fall schedule that saw Florida post three top-five finishes and a team victory at The Invitational at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C.
Three other top-25 programs are in the field including last year's SunTrust Gator Invitational runner-up Arkansas (No. 13/12), Liberty and Florida State (No. 31/23).
The field will feature 14 players who are currently ranked inside the latest Golfweek top 100 individual ranks, spotlighted by No. 11 T.J. Vogel and No. 19 Tyler McCumber of Florida and No. 13 Daniel Berger of Florida State.
The Flames' top-ranked golfer will be junior Chase Marinell, who comes into the event ranked No. 54 individually following an eighth-place finish at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
The Fort Myers, Fla., native closed Liberty's spring opening event with a pair of under-par rounds at 70 and posted his eighth career sub-par tournament score with a two-under par 211 (71-70-70). The effort earned him Big South Men's Golfer of the Week honors, last week.
Marinell is one of three golfers on Liberty's roster that will be returning to their home state. Joining Marinell will be fellow "Sunshine State" natives senior Max McKay and junior Ian McConnell.
McKay, who hails from Jacksonville, Fla., ranks third on the team with a 73.73 season stroke average, and he finished tied for 28th place at the Arizona Intercollegiate with a seven-over par 220 (67-78-75).
McConnell, a native of Riverview, Fla., also carded a seven-over par 220 (73-74-73) to share 28th place at the Arizona Intercollegiate with McKay and he ranks fourth on the team with a 74.5 stroke average.
The Gator Invitational has brought some of the best young golfing talent to Gainesville, Fla., since the event started in 1978. The event's medalist list included PGA Tour professionals Jonas Blixt (2005), Chris Couch (1994 and 1995), Chris DiMarco (1990), Billy Horschel (2009), Jeff Klauk (1998), Graeme McDowell (2002), Alex Rocha (2000) and David Toms (1989).
Florida has used the home course familiarity to its advantage, having captured the team title 23 times in the event's 35-year history, and has 10 individual medalists.
The 14-team field will play 36 holes at the Mark Bostick Golf Course on Saturday, followed by a concluding 18 holes of action on Sunday. Live stats will be available through Golfstat.com.
2013 SunTrust Gator Invitational (Golfweek/Golfstat Team Rankings) Arkansas (No. 13/12) Florida (No. 5/3) Florida State (No. 31/23) Georgia Southern (No. 51/54) Jacksonville (No. 165/158) Kennesaw State (No. 54/66) Lamar (No. 94/87) Liberty (No. 23/31) Memphis (No. 71/75) Mississippi State (No. 42/41) North Florida (No. 35/34) South Alabama (No. 66/64) UAB (No. 78/84) UCF (No. 49/47)
Potential Top 125 Individual Golfers in the Field (Golfweek Individual Rankings) No. 11 – T.J. Vogel (Florida) No. 13 – Daniel Berger (Florida State) No. 19 – Tyler McCumber (Florida) No. 21 – Greg Eason (UCF) No. 39 – Jimmy Beck (Kennesaw State) No. 42 – M.J. Maguire (North Florida) No. 45 – Austin Cook (Arkansas) No. 54 – Chase Marinell (Liberty) No. 62 – Sebastian Cappelen (Arkansas) No. 65 – J.D. Tomlinson (Florida) No. 69 – Kevin Phelan (North Florida) No. 77 – Chad Ramey (Mississippi State) No. 83 – Michael Garretson (South Alabama) No. 90 – Thomas Sorensen (Arkansas)
Course Information: Mark Bostick Golf Course (Gainesville, Fla.) Par 70, 6,701 yards
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