No. 22 Liberty shook off a difficult start and closed strong during Day 1 of the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Championship on Friday, where the Flames find themselves tied for 14th place.
Liberty carded a 17-over par 305 on The Blessings Golf Club (par 72, 7,550 yards), a lengthy and challenging trek of land that is home to the men's and women's golf programs at Arkansas.
The Flames, who opened the day on the demanding back nine at the course, made the turn at 16-over par. However, Liberty only gave away one shot during its final nine holes to keep the Flames near the middle of the pack following the opening day of the national championship.
The Flames will return to The Blessings tomorrow for Round 2 of the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Championship. Liberty will once again be paired with Baylor and Illinois, this time going off No. 1 tee (par 4, 470 yards) and going out during the afternoon flight, starting at 1:05 p.m. CST.
Round Recap – Liberty's Starting Five: • No. 27 Ervin Chang: T36 3-over par 75 (75) • No. 59 Gabe Lench: T36 3-over par 75 (75) • Alexandre Fuchs: T69 5-over par 77 (77) • Kieran Vincent: T87 6-over par 78 (78) • Jonathan Yaun: T129 9-over par 81 (81)
Field Reflections: • The top 15 teams following play on Sunday night will advance to an additional 18 holes of stroke play competition on Monday. • The entire 30-team field is vying to finish inside the top eight to advance to the match play portion of the national championship event. • When the Flames left the course, Liberty was tied for 19th place, but the team climbed the leaderboard as the afternoon flight finished its round. • Liberty shares 14th place with No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 15 South Carolina. • No. 9 USC and No. 25 North Carolina are one shot ahead of the Flames with a 16-over par 304, while No. 4 Vanderbilt and No. 7 Georgia Tech trail Liberty by two shots after a 19-over par 307. • Oklahoma State, the defending national champion and No. 1 team in the country, sits atop the leaderboard following a 2-over par 290. • No. 10 Stanford is in second place following a 3-over par 291, while No. 11 Auburn and No. 12 California are tied for third place after a 4-over par 292. • Eleven players in the 156-man field are under par, led by California's Collin Morikawa, the No. 3 ranked player in the country, who opened with a 5-under par 67.
Birdies and Bogeys – Liberty Team Notes: • The Flames are participating in their second national championship event in program history and their first since 2012. • Liberty won the 2012 NCAA Greensboro Regional and finished in 10th place at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championship at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. • The Flames played their final nine holes of round one, which were holes No. 1 through No. 9, at 1-over par to steady their play on Arkansas' home golf course. • Liberty posted only two birdies during the first nine holes of the championship, while closing the day with nine birdies during its back nine. • Liberty posted the fourth-best round of the morning flight out of the 15 teams who teed it up early at The Blessings Golf Club. • No. 17 Texas A&M (+8/296), No. 42 Ohio State (+9/297) and No. 25 North Carolina (+25/304) finished ahead of Liberty on Friday. • Ervin Chang, who is individually ranked No. 27 in the country, and Gabe Lench, who is ranked No. 59 nationally, both led the Flames on the day with three birdies each. • Chang's trio of under-par scores came in a three-hole burst, as the junior carded three straight birdies on No. 6 (par 4, 350 yards), No. 7 (par 4, 515 yards) and No. 8 (par 3, 145 yards). • Lench had two of his three birdies on the day during his final nine holes, birding the opening hole at The Blessings (par 4, 470 yards) and No. 5 (par 5, 590 yards) that included a nice up-and-down from a greenside bunker. • The pair of Liberty golfers both led the team during the opening round of the championship, as they are tied for 36th place with a 3-over par 75.
Course Information: • The Blessings Golf Course (Fayetteville, Ark.) • Par 72, 7,550 yards
Following the Flames at NCAA Men's Golf National Championship: • Live stats will be available at Golfstat.com • Twitter @LibertyGolf • Instagram @LibertyGolf • Round 2 Tee Time: Saturday at 2:05 p.m./EST (No. 1 tee)
Photos Provided by Tim Cowie