Ian McConnell was one of three Liberty winners on the day, helping the Flames secure a 3-0-2 victory over Iowa and finish in ninth place at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship.
No. 7 seed Liberty won its third match in a row, downing Iowa on Tuesday, 3-0-2, to secure ninth place in its first-ever showing at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championships. After dropping a close 3-and-2 match to No. 10 seed Tennessee on Sunday, Liberty followed with wins over No. 15 seed UNC Wilmington, 3-and-2, and a 4-and-1 win over No. 14 seed Arizona State. Liberty had three winners on Tuesday in Robert Karlsson, Max McKay and Ian McConnell to secure its win over Iowa. Additionally, Chase Marinell and Niklas Lindstrom halved their matches, both with late charges to knot their individual matchups. Karlsson led the Flames on the week, as the two-time Big South Golfer of the Year was a perfect 4-0. Marinell followed and was unbeaten at 3-0-1, while McConnell won his last two matches to post a 2-2 record. Lindstrom was 2-1-1 during the match play event, while McKay posted a 1-3 record. Overall, the 2012 Callaway Collegiate Match Play team title could not be decided in 18 holes, as it took three extra holes before the match between No. 1 seed Arkansas and No. 3 seed Duke was decided. Kolton Crawford eventually was able to defeat Yaroslav Merkulov on the 21st hole, giving Arkansas the victory over the defending event champion Duke, 2-1-2. Karlsson opened the day with Liberty's first win, taking down Barrett Kelpin, 3-and-2. Starting on hole No. 10, Karlsson quickly opened up a sizeable lead, as he was 4 up when he came to the home hole at The Concession Golf Club before wrapping up his fourth straight victory on the par-5, No. 7 hole. Liberty's next win came from McKay, who picked up his first win at the event with a 4-and-2 victory over Ian Vandersee. Vandersee tried to get back into the match after McKay won the first four holes, trimming McKay's lead down to two. However, McKay closed out the match with wins on holes No. 8 and 9 to secure the victory on the par-72, 7,474-yard Jack Nicklaus course. Liberty's final individual victory came from McConnell, who wore Steven Ihm down and won 3-and-1. Tied after eight holes, McConnell looked like he was going to go 1 up on the par-4, No. 18 hole after hitting the green in regulation and Ihm finding the water hazard right. However, Ihm got up and down for bogey and McConnell four putted for double bogey, giving Ihm the 1 up edge. McConnell managed to square the match up with a win at the par-4, No. 2 hole, but a short approach shot on the par-3, No. 4 hole by McConnell allowed Ihm to reclaim a 1 up lead with five holes left to play. Both players went long on the par-4, No. 5 hole, but McConnell was able to get up and down for par to square the match and begin his winning closing stretch of holes. McConnell then stuck a short iron within seven feet on the par-3, No. 6 hole and sank the birdie putt to reclaim a lead he would never relinquish. On the next hole, the 606-yard, par-5, No. 7 hole, McConnell struck a tree on his second shot that left him more than 200 yards from the green. However, the sophomore knocked his third shot within four feet and after Ihm found the hazard, the Iowa golfer conceded the hole to give McConnell a dormie 2 lead. Both golfers found the water in front of the par-4, No. 8 green, leaving the hole to a battle of wedge shots. McConnell spun his second try back off the sloping green to within eight feet, while Ihm was short for a second time and he conceded the hole and match after the errant shot. In Marinell's match with Chris Brant, neither golfer held more than a 1 up lead during the 18-hole battle. Marinell posted a bogey six on No. 8, while Brant posted a birdie to take a 1 up lead with two holes to play. Marinell quickly got the hole back with a par on the par-4, No. 9 hole, before the two halved their final hole, No. 10, to end the match all square. Lindstrom seemed in trouble after his playing partner, Brian Bullington, won three out of four holes late to take a 3 up advantage with six holes to play. However, Lindstrom fought back, posting wins on No. 8, 9 and 10 to square the match. The pair matched each other on their last two holes, the par-3, No. 11 and the par-4, No. 12 to leave the match all square. The Flames will return to the golf links later this weekend when Liberty travels to Greensboro, Ga., for the Linger Longer Invitational. The two-day, 54-hole event, hosted by Kennesaw State, will be played at the Great Waters Golf Club.
First Round No. 10 seed Tennessee def. No. 7 seed Liberty, 3-and-2 Karlsson (LU) def. Porteous (UT), 3-and-1 Vandeventer (UT) def. McConnell (LU), 1 up Marinell (LU) def. Rodgers (UT), 4-and-3 Lamb (UT) def. McKay (LU), 4-and-3 Talkington (UT) def. Lindstrom (LU), 4-and-3
Second Round No. 7 seed Liberty def. No. 15 seed UNC Wilmington, 3-and-2Karlsson (LU) def. Bass (UNCW), 2 up McLeod (UNCW) def. McConnell (LU), 4-and-3 Marinell (LU) def. Nagy (UNCW), 3-and-2 Brewer (UNCW) def. McKay (LU), 3-and-2 Lindstrom (LU) def. Sawrey (UNCW), 2 up
Third Round No. 7 seed Liberty def. No. 14 seed Arizona State, 4-and-1 Karlsson (LU) def. Fletcher (ASU), 8-and-6 McConnell (LU) def. Schjoelberg (ASU), 2-and-1 Marinell (LU) def. Gautier (ASU), 6-and-5 Quick (ASU) def. McKay (LU), 3-and-1 Lindstrom (LU) def. Palmer (ASU), 5-and-4
Fourth Round No. 7 seed Liberty vs. No. 8 seed Iowa, 3-0-2Karlsson (LU) def. Kelpin (IOWA), 3-and-2 McConnell (LU) def. Ihm (IOWA), 3-and-1 Marinell (LU) vs. Brant (IOWA), all square McKay (LU) def. Vadersee (IOWA), 4-and-2 Lindstrom (LU) vs. Bullington (IOWA), all square