No. 22 Liberty was not able to keep pace with the upper half of the field during Day 2 of the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Championship, as the Flames dropped into a share of 23rd place after play on Saturday.
The Blessings Golf Club (par 72, 7,550 yards) played over two strokes easier on Saturday (74.99 stroke average) than it did during a challenging first round of play on Friday (77.03). However, the Flames did not show as much improvement during their second time around the course as the rest of the 30-team field.
The Flames dropped from a share of 14th place on Friday down to a tie for 23rd place, as Liberty completed the first 36 holes of the national championship event at a 32-over par 608 (305-303).
Liberty will need to do some work tomorrow when it returns to the home golf course of the Arkansas men's and women's golf program. The Flames will begin Round 3 of the championship at 12:55 p.m. (CST), off No. 1 tee (par 4, 470 yards), along with No. 9 USC and Georgia Southern.
Round Recap – Liberty's Starting Five: • Alexandre Fuchs: T37 4-over par 148 (77-71) • No. 59 Gabe Lench: T37 4-over par 148 (75-73) • Kieran Vincent: T102 11-over par 155 (78-77) • No. 27 Ervin Chang: T118 13-over par 157 (75-82) • Jonathan Yaun: 9-over par 81 (81) [Round 1] • Zach Barbin: 11-over par 83 (83) [Round 2)
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. • SMU currently holds the 15th spot on the team leaderboard and is seven shots clear of the Flames with a 25-over par 601 (308-293). • A total of 13 teams are within 10 shots of each other that currently hold down the No. 12 through No. 23 spots on the team leaderboard heading into tomorrow's final round. • No. 1 Oklahoma State, the defending national championship, showcased why they were the national top ranked team throughout the year with their strong play on Saturday. • The Cowboys blitzed The Blessings Golf Club today, carding a 12-under par 276 to open up a 12-shot lead over No. 10 Stanford, who is in second place. • Oklahoma State leads after 36 holes with a 10-under par 566 (290-276), while Stanford is in second place with a 2-over par 578 (291-287). • Oklahoma State's Austin Eckroat, who is ranked No. 44 in the country, leads the 156-man field following matching rounds to post an overall 6-under par 138 (69-69). • Oklahoma State's Matthew Wolff, the No. 1 ranked player in the country, helped the Cowboys stellar play on Saturday by carding a 6-under par 66 and is in second place with an overall 5-under par 139 (73-66).
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 the first six holes of the day at even par and had climbed up to seventh place on the leaderboard a third of the way through their round. • However, Liberty carded a pair of bogeys and a double bogey on No. 7, the longest par-4 hole on the course (515 yards), which started Liberty's slide down the leaderboard. • Liberty managed to post only five total birdies during its closing 12 holes of the day. • Alexandre Fuchs was the lone bright spot on the day for Liberty, as the sophomore carded a 1-under par 71 to climb 32 spots on the individual leaderboard. • Fuchs (77-71) and Gabe Lench (75-73) lead the way for the Flames, as they are both tied for 37th place with a 4-over par 148. • Fuchs birdied three of his first six holes and was up to 4-under par on the day after a fourth birdie on the dogleg right No. 11 hole (par 4, 408 yards). • However, Fuchs bogeyed three out of a four-hole stretch from No. 14 to 17, before closing out his 13th round at par or better this season. • Lench overcame a bogey-double bogey stretch on No. 6 (par 4, 359 yards) and No. 7 to get his card back to level par before he bogeyed the par-3, No. 17 hole (206 yards). • Head Coach Jeff Thomas utilized the NCAA's postseason substitution rule, which allows a team's alternate player to be inserted into the starting lineup at the coach's dissection. • After freshman Jonathan Yaun posted a 9-over par 81 on Friday, Thomas started sophomore Zach Barbin, who finished Saturday with an 11-over par 83. • Ervin Chang, Liberty's scoring average leader during the year and the No. 27 ranked golfer in the country, carded his highest total of the season with a 10-over par 82 on Saturday to drop to a share of 118th place (13-over par 157/75-82).
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 3 Tee Time: Saturday at 12:55 p.m./CST (No. 1 tee)
Photos Provided by Tim Cowie: