A strong finish on Day Two of the Big South Men's Golf Championship allowed No. 1 seed Liberty to take over the lead heading into the event's final day of competition.
The Flames, ranked No. 35 in the country by Golfstat and No. 37 by Golfweek, currently hold a five-stroke lead over No. 5 seed Charleston Southern and a six-shot edge over No. 4 seed Coastal Carolina.
Liberty leads the 10-team field with a seven-over par 583 (290-293). The Flames, who finished up on the front nine, were able to weather the windy playing conditions better then yesterday's leading team who finished up on the tougher back nine.
The Flames struggled down the stretch yesterday when they closed on the back nine and finished up five shots off the lead and in fourth place after 18 holes of play at The Patriot Golf Club.
Charleston Southern was six-under par midway through today's round, but struggled to finish up and is in third place with a 13-under par 589 (286-303). The Buccaneers had a combined 16 bogeys and four double bogeys during their closing nine holes.
Coastal Carolina, the defending conference champions, had a similar fate on the back nine holes. The Chanticleers had 11 bogeys, two triple bogeys and a double bogey to finish 36 holes of play with a 12-over par 588 (285-303).
Liberty and Gardner-Webb were the only two teams to break 300 on the par-72, 7,120-yard course on Tuesday. Day one individual leader David Denlinger from Charleston Southern was able to remain in first place, but his lead was reduced. The senior carded a one-over par 73 and now leads the 50-man field with a five-under par 139 (66-73).
Campbell's Gaston Bertinotti is in second place with a four-under par 140 (70-70) and Coastal Carolina's Ben Wheeler is in third place with a two-under par 142 (70-72). The trio of players are the only players following 36 holes of play under par.
Liberty's overall lead is due in part to the Flames having four of their five golfers currently ranked inside the top 15 in the field.
Leading the way for the Flames is senior Chase Marinell, who is five shots off the overall pace with an even par 144 (71-73) and is tied for fourth place.
After two front-side bogeys, the senior got back to level par with birdies at No. 1 and No. 5. After a bogey at No. 6, he evened his score on the day with a birdie on No. 8, only to give the stroke back again on his closing hole where he missed a short bending par putt at No. 9.
Mathieu Fenasse, the reigning Big South individual medalist, is currently tied for sixth place at two-over par 146 (74-72).
The junior opened with a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 10, but later fell back to one-over on the day with bogeys and No. 16 and No. 3, two difficult par-4 holes. On his second-to-last par 5 for the day, No. 5, Fenasse was able to get back to level par for the day with a birdie, giving him five-out-of-seven career rounds at the Davis Love, III, designed course at par or better.
Niklas Lindstrom moved up the leaderboard two spots despite three more strokes on Tuesday. The senior is tied for eighth place with a three-over par 147 (72-75). He struggled out of the gates, bogeying five of his first eight holes. However, the senior was able to close with three birdies, six pars and one last bogey to finish three-over for the day and championship.
Liberty's final top 15 golfer is Jacob Mast, who is tied for 12th place with a five-over par 149 (76-73). Competing in his second team tournament this season, the senior carded his second-best 18-hole total of the season to help the Flames overtake the lead.
Mast was one-under par on the day after back-to-back birdies on No. 18 and No. 1, but gave the strokes back with consecutive bogeys at No. 2 and 3. He also traded a bogey and birdie at No. 7 and 8 before wrapping up his round with a par at No. 9.
Liberty's final golfer in the field is Ian McConnell, who is tied for 31st place with an 11-over par 155 (73-82).
The senior opened where he left off yesterday with six-straight pars. A double bogey at the par-4, No. 16 hole ended a streak of 17-consecutive holes at par or better. The senior struggled with his putter during his back nine, dropping him down the leaderboard. On the day, he hit 11-of-14 fairways, 10-of-18 greens in regulation and had 36 total putts.
Golfers from Liberty, Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina will be the last to leave the No. 1 tee box at The Patriot Golf Club tomorrow, starting at 9:20 a.m.
The victorious team will claim the Big South men's golf title and be awarded the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.
Liberty is searching for its third title in the last four years, while Coastal Carolina will be looking for its Big South record 15th conference title. Charleston Southern is seeking its third Big South title and the first since 2003.
Live stats will once again be provided throughout the day via Golfstat.com, while the @LUGameDay twitter account will be on the course providing updates on Liberty's golfers.
Liberty Senior Jacob Mast:
Liberty Head Golf Coach Jeff Thomas: