Ian McConnell is Liberty's top golfer after two rounds at the Gopher Invitational.
No. 33 Liberty had a seven-shot improvement during its afternoon flight, but it only advanced the Flames' team rankings one spot following two rounds of action at the Gopher Invitational on Sunday. Liberty, fresh off its first Big South title in program history last spring, began the fall portion of its 2011 slate with a 12-over par 300 on the par-72, 7,020-yard, Spring Hill Golf Club. The Flames rebounded during the afternoon flight with a five-over par 293, but find themselves in eighth place in the tournament's 14-team field heading into the final round of competition on Monday. Notre Dame holds a four-stroke edge over No. 15 Arkansas, with the Fighting Irish sitting atop the leaderboard with a one-over par 577 (282-295). The Razorbacks were a bit more consistent than Notre Dame with rounds of 290 and 291 on Sunday and are in second place with a five-over par 581. Liberty (300-293-593) is not the only Top 50 program in the 14-team field struggling, following the first 36 holes of action on the Tom Fazio designed layout. No. 32 Kent State finds itself in 10th place following Sunday's action with a 26-over par 603 (302-300). A total of five golfers are in red figures, led by Notre Dame's Paul McNamara, who blitzed the field with an opening round six-under par 66. After a one-over par 73 during the afternoon flight, McNamara is one clear of his nearest competitor with a 36-hole aggregate five-under par 139. Iowa's Barrett Kelpin is in second place with a four-under par 140 (69-71), followed by a trio of golfers in third place with a one-under par 143. Liberty's top golfer in the 75-man field is Ian McConnell, who individually helped the Flames show improvement during the afternoon flight by shaving three shots over his morning scorecard. McConnell opened with a three-over par 75, but followed with an even-par 72 during his second round and shares 13th place with six other golfers with a three-over par 147. Reigning Big South Freshman of the Year Chase Marinell is one shot behind his fellow sophomore teammate. He stands in 20th place with a four-over par 148 (75-73). Two-time Big South Golfer of the Year Robert Karlsson struggled out of the gates, carding a five-over par 77 during the morning flight. But the senior was one of only six golfers in the field to find red figures during the afternoon, carding a one-under par 71 and shares 20th place with Marinell with a four-over par 148. Liberty's final two golfers in the field are Jordan Frye, who is tied for 40th place, with an eight-over par 152 (73-79) and Niklas Lindstrom, who is tied for 56th place with a 12-over par 156 (79-77). The Flames will be off early in the morning, playing alongside host Minnesota and Lamar, from No. 1 tee, starting at 8 a.m. (CST). The final 18 holes of competition will bring to a close the first of four tournaments on the Flames fall schedule.