No. 22 Liberty saw its team season come to an end today at the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Championship, but senior Gabe Lench extended his collegiate career for one more round.
The Flames wrapped up their 2018-19 season by finishing tied for 20th place, carding a 42-over par 906 (305-303-298) on lengthy and challenging The Blessings Golf Club (par 72, 7,550 yards).
Liberty shared 20th place with No. 33 UNLV (310-292-304) with both teams finishing six shots off the cutline to advance to tomorrow's final round of stroke play.
However, Lench closed the team portion of the championship with a three-under par 69 and is currently tied for 11th place with an overall 1-over par 217 (75-73-69).
With the senior's strong finish, Lench becomes one of nine individuals not on advancing teams to play during the final round where the individual national champion will be crowned.
Lench will be in the final grouping sent off the No. 1 tee (par 4, 470 yards) at 1:23 p.m. CST.
Round Recap – Liberty's Starting Five: • No. 59 Gabe Lench: T11 1-over par 217 (75-73-69) • Alexandre Fuchs: T43 7-over par 223 (77-71-75) [Round 1-3] • No. 27 Ervin Chang: T119 18-over par 234 (75-82-77) [Round 1-3] • Kieran Vincent: T129 20-over par 236 (78-77-81) [Round 1-3] • Jonathan Yaun: 9-over par 81 (81) [Round 1] • Zach Barbin: 11-over par 83 (83) [Round 2]
Field Reflections: • The top 15 teams at the end of play today advanced to an additional 18 holes of stroke play competition on Monday where the 2019 individual national champion will be won. • The team field will be cut once again following play on Monday where the top eight teams will advance to the match play portion of the national championship event. • No. 9 USC, who the Flames played their final round alongside, claimed the 15th and final spot to advance to play tomorrow with a 36-over par 900 (304-304-292). • No. 1 Oklahoma State, the defending national champions, remains atop the leaderboard with a 12-under par 852 (290-276-286). • No. 5 Texas climbed up to second place with a 13-over par 877 (298-290-289) and is tied with No. 10 Stanford (291-287-299). • Lench and the rest of the field will be chasing Oklahoma State's Matthew Wolff tomorrow, as the No. 1 ranked golfer in the country leads the individual field with a 7-under par 209 (73-66-70). • Wolff is eight shots clear of Lench and is directly being chased by his teammate Austin Eckroat, who has carded a 5-under par 211 (69-69-73), and Georgia Southern's Steven Fisk, who has carded a 4-under par 212 (76-68-68).
Birdies and Bogeys – Liberty Team Notes: • The Flames participated 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 did manage to card seven birdies during their opening six holes of the final round on Sunday, which did temporarily place Liberty above the cutline a third of the way through the round. • However, Liberty carded a pair of bogeys and triple bogeys, along with a double bogey over a three-hole stretch to drop the Flames below the leaderboard's "Red Line". • Lench's climb up the leaderboard came as the senior carded his eighth sub-70 round of the season and the 26th of his four-year career at Liberty. • The senior finished the day with five birdies and led the Flames during the 54-hole portion of the national championship with 11 birdies. • Alexandre Fuchs finished tied for 43rd place with a 7-over par 223 (77-71-75), which was two shots outside of making a playoff for the final individual spot in tomorrow's stroke play round. • Following a season worst round of 10-over par 82, junior Ervin Chang birdied the par-5 No. 10 hole (605 yards) to get to 2-under par for his round. • However, Chang carded three double bogeys and a bogey over the next six holes to keep the Flames from being able to remain in the race to make the team cut.
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 4 Tee Time for Gabe Lench: Monday at 1:23 p.m./EST (No. 1 tee)
Photos provided by Tim Cowie: