Gabe Lench, the lone senior in Liberty's starting lineup this year, finished off his career in style on Monday, tying for 24th place at the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf National Championship.
Lench posted a four-day total of 6-over par 294 (75-73-69-77) on the lengthy and challenging The Blessings Golf Club (par 72, 7,550 yards), home course of the Arkansas men's and women's golf programs.
At the end of the 54-hole cut on Sunday, Lench found himself tied for 11th place and was one of nine individual golfers to advance to the final round of stroke play from a non-advancing team (top 15 teams advanced to play on Monday).
Lench became the first golfer in program history to advance to the final round of stroke play and posted the best individual finish of a Flames' golfer in program history at the national championship.
Round Recap – Liberty's Starting Five: • No. 59 Gabe Lench: T24 7-over par 294 (75-73-69-77) [Round 1-4] • Alexandre Fuchs: NA 7-over par 223 (77-71-75) [Round 1-3] • No. 27 Ervin Chang: NA 18-over par 234 (75-82-77) [Round 1-3] • Kieran Vincent: NA 20-over par 236 (78-77-81) [Round 1-3] • Jonathan Yaun: NA 9-over par 81 (81) [Round 1] • Zach Barbin: NA 11-over par 83 (83) [Round 2]
Field Reflections: • Monday's field was made up of the top 15 teams following the first 54 holes of competition, plus nine individuals from the non-advancing 15 teams. • Today's round concluded stroke play for the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Championship and set the field for the match play portion of the championship event. • The top eight teams at the end of play today advanced to the quarterfinal match play session on Tuesday morning. • No. 1 Oklahoma State, the defending national champions, finished atop the team leaderboard with a 16-under par 1136 (290-276-286-284). • SMU (308-293-292-303) and Clemson (302-292-298-304) finished tied for eighth place with a 44-over par 1196, forcing a sudden death playoff hole. • SMU came out on top with all five of its golfers posting a par on No. 18 (par 4, 478 yards), while only three of Clemson's starting five could par the closing hole. • Tomorrow's match play quarterfinals will feature matchups between: (1) Oklahoma State vs. (8) SMU; (2) Vanderbilt vs. (7) Texas A&M; (3) Wake Forest vs. (6) Stanford; (4) Texas vs. (5) Oklahoma. • The four victors from the morning match play sessions will square off in the semifinals on Tuesday afternoon, with the championship round set for Wednesday. • Oklahoma State's Matthew Wolff claimed the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Championship individual national title with a winning score of 10-under par 278 (73-66-70-69).
Birdies and Bogeys – Liberty Team Notes: • Lench bounced back from a bogey on the opening hole to card a birdie at No. 6 (par 4, 359 yards), getting the senior up to as high as seventh place on the leaderboard. • However, Lench went double bogey-bogey-double bogey on the next three holes to make the turn at 5-over par and fall out of the top 10. • The senior did close the tournament with a pair of birdies at No. 11 (par 4, 408 yards) and No. 15 (par 5, 560 yards) before wrapping up his career. • Lench finishes his four-year career with the Flames with a 72.85 career stroke average, 13 Top 10 finishes, six Top 5 finishes and two career medalist honors. • He played 42.36 percent of his career rounds at par or better (61-of-144) and posted 26 career sub-70 rounds of golf (including Sunday's round at this event). • Lench helped the Flames to four-straight NCAA Regional appearances and the team's highest national ranking at No. 18 midway through the spring portion of this season. • The senior was a two-time all-conference golfer: 2019 ASUN Men's Golf All-Conference first team and 2017 Big South Men's Golf All-Conference. • Lench's T24 placement bested former Flame Chase Marinell, who finished tied for 29th place at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championship as the best individual finish by a Flames' golfer in program history at this event. • This week, 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.
Photos provided by Tim Cowie: