No. 26 Seed Liberty Ready for NCAA National Championship
For the third season in a row and fourth time overall in program history, Liberty’s men’s golf program will contend for the national championship.
No. 26 seed Liberty will look to become the first team in Liberty Athletics history to capture an NCAA Division I national championship when they take to the Grayhawk Golf Club – Raptor Course (par 70, 7,289 yards), starting on Friday.
The Flames booked tickets to Scottsdale, Ariz., after a thrilling fifth-place finish at last week’s NCAA Stockton Regional that included three birdies on the 18th hole to secure the return trip to the national championship.
Liberty has appeared in the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship three times previously in program history (2012 and 2019, 2021).
The Flames’ best finish at the national championship event came in 2012. Liberty finished tied for 10th place at the famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., finishing one stroke away from advancing to the top-eight match play portion of the championship.
First round play gets underway on Friday at the 2022 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship. The Flames will be paired with No. 25 seed North Florida and No. 26 seed BYU.
The three teams will be sent off the No. 1 tee (par 4, 430 yards) starting at 7:27 a.m. PST on Friday and the No. 10 tee (par 4, 390 yards) at 12:47 p.m. PST on Saturday.
Now on The Tee – Liberty’s Starting Five (Season Stroke Average):
- Kieran Vincent (71.18)
- Austin Duncan (71.69)
- Isaac Simmons (71.87)
- Jonathan Yaun (71.88)
- Austin Barbin (73.13)
- Alternate: Zach Barbin (74.36)
Tournament Reflections – Liberty’s Last Showing at the NCAA National Championship:
- Liberty finished in 21st place out of 30 teams during the 2021 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship.
- The Flames, who were ranked No. 15 in the country coming into the championship, carded a 39-over par 879 (295-300-284) following three trips around the Grayhawk Golf Club – Raptor Course (par 70, 7,289 yards).
- The Flames had one of the best rounds during Day 3 of the championship, carding a 4-over par 284 to rapidly climb up the leaderboard and nearly move into the top 15 teams.
- Liberty got within three strokes of the coveted “Red Line” (top-15 teams) multiple times during its final trip around Grayhawk.
- However, Liberty ultimately fell short of advancing as a team to the final round of stroke play, which would have been a first in program history.
- Liberty finished seven shots behind No. 22 seed Georgia Tech (289-288-295) and No. 27 seed TCU (292-293-287), who share 15th place with an overall 32-over par 872.
- Kieran Vincent (77-75-66) and Jonathan Yaun (73-73-72) paced the way for the Flames, finishing tied for 56th place.
- Zach Barbin also played the first two rounds of the championship, finished his 36 holes play at a 14-over par 154 (79-75).
- Isaac Simmons gained some valuable postseason playing experience by playing in Round 3 and carding a 11-over par 81.
From the 18th Green – Recapping Liberty’s Last Time Out:
- 7 seed Liberty carded three birdies on the closing hole of the NCAA Stockton Regional to send the Flames back to the NCAA National Championship for the third year in a row.
- Entering the final round in seventh place sent the Flames off the No. 1 tee in the second wave of teams. No. 4 seed LSU was sent out on the first wave off No. 10, setting the stage for the dueling drama around the adjacent No. 9 and No. 18 closing holes.
- Austin Duncan jumpstarted Liberty’s late rally with an ace on the par-3, No. 15 hole (179 yards).
- Liberty then posted three birdies on the par-5, No. 16 hole (535 yards) and got impressive birdies by Zach Barbin, Isaac Simmons and Jonathan Yaun on the closing No. 18 hole (par 4, 399 yards).
- Conversely, on the other side of the lake that divided holes No. 9 and No. 18, LSU carded three bogeys on No. 8 (par 3, 237 yards), which was its 17th hole of the day, and a final bogey at No. 9.
- With the Tigers closing 4-over on their final two holes and Liberty finishing 6-under on its last four holes, Liberty leapfrogged the Tigers for the final qualifying spot at the NCAA Stockton Regional.
- The Flames finished the event in fifth place with a final score of 18-under par 846 (287-278-281) following three trips around The Reserve at Spanos Park (par 72, 7,315 yards).
- The Flames joined No. 1 seed Arizona State, No. 3 seed Stanford, No. 8 seed BYU and No. 5 seed Oregon as the five teams to advance from the Stockton Regional to the 2022 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship.
- Liberty was paced at the NCAA Stockton Regional by Jonathan Yaun, who finished tied for fifth place with an 8-under par 208 (70-70-68).
- Isaac Simmons followed with a 5-under par 211 (70-70-71) for a share of 15th place, his fifth top-20 finish of the season.
Birdies and Bogeys – Liberty Team Notes:
- Liberty enters the national championship ranked No. 38 in the latest Golfstat team rankings.
- Liberty has posted nine top-five finishes in 12 events during the 2021-22 season.
- Recognition of Austin Duncan’s work in the classroom has continued as the grad transfer was named to the 2021-22 CoSIDA Academic All-District® Men’s At-Large team, earlier this week (first player in program history to be named to the team).
- Kieran Vincent individually ranks No. 52 in the country in the latest Golfstat rankings, followed by Jonathan Yaun (No. 127) and Austin Duncan (No. 144).
- Vincent has posted 25 career top-10 finishes during his career at Liberty, which ranks second to Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Robert Karlsson (31 – 2009-12).
- Liberty has dominated play on the par-5 holes during the 2021-22 season and ranks No. 21 in the country in par-5 scoring average (4.72).
- The Flames also rank No. 46 in the country in last round scoring average (72.45).
- Individually, Jonathan Yaun ranks No. 96 in the country in last round scoring average (70.82), Isaac Simmons ranks No. 106 (70.90).
- Kieran Vincent continues to be one of the more consistent players in the country, ranking No. 22 in the country in fewest bogeys per round (2.24).
- Kieran Vincent also ranks No. 19 in the latest PGA Tour University rankings.
- Kieran Vincent has already provisionally qualified for the PGA Tour Canada and will join Liberty golf alum Alexandre Fuchs (Liberty ’21 grad) on the tour directly following the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship.
- Austin Duncan currently leads the team in par-3 scoring average (3.13), while Kieran Vincent leads the team in par-4 (4.04) and par-5 (4.63) scoring average.
- Kieran Vincent leads Liberty in pars per round (11.61), followed by Austin Duncan (11.58). Overall, the Flames rank No. 39 in the country in pars per round (11.04).
- The Flames finished their fall season ranked No. 22 in the Golfweek Men’s Golf Team Rankings, No. 24 in the Bushnell/Golfweek Division I Coaches Poll and No. 26 in the Golfstat team rankings.
- Liberty finished the fall season with a 288.33 team stroke average, the fourth-best mark in program history.
- The Flames have advanced to the NCAA Regionals 10 of the last 11 regional events and to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship three previous times in program history (2012, 2019 and 2021).
Conference Success – Liberty’s Conference Notes:
- Prior to the start of the ASUN Championship in April, Liberty placed three players on the ASUN All-Conference teams.
- Kieran Vincent and Austin Duncan were named to the ASUN All-Conference first team, while Jonathan Yaun was a second-team all-conference selection.
- Austin Duncan was also named the ASUN Men’s Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year, while Isaac Simmons joined Duncan on the ASUN All-Academic team.
- Since 2011, Liberty has captured six conference titles in two different conferences.
- Liberty captured the conference title five times as a member of the Big South Conference (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018).
- Liberty won its first-ever ASUN Conference championship in 2021.
- Liberty has also earned six at-large bids to the NCAA Regionals – 2003, 2006, 2013, 2017, 2019 and 2022.
- The men’s golf program is one of only two teams at Liberty to earn an at-large selection into an NCAA Division I postseason championship. Baseball earned its first-ever NCAA Regional at-large berth in 2014.
#RiseWithUs – Liberty Athletics Success at the National Level:
- Liberty Athletics is one of the fastest growing NCAA Division I athletics programs in the country and will be moving to Conference USA during the 2023-24 athletic year.
- Liberty’s golf team is looking to cap off an impressive showing for Liberty Athletics at the national level this year.
- Earlier in the fall, Liberty’s field hockey team became the first-ever Liberty Athletics program to advance to a national championship game where the Lady Flames eventually lost to No. 7 Northwestern (L/ 0-2).
- The Flames currently have 24 student-athletes competing at this weekend’s NCAA East Preliminary Round track & field event in Bloomington, Ind.
- Maddie Freeze of Liberty’s women’s swimming & diving program represented the Flames at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships for the second year in a row in March.
- Liberty’s softball team advanced to their second-straight NCAA Regional earlier this month, where they opened the Regional with a 2-0 shutout win over No. 19 Georgia.
- Liberty’s football team, who moved up to the NCAA FBS level in 2019, won its third-straight bowl game with a convincing 56-20 win over Eastern Michigan in the LendingTree Bowl in December.
- Liberty is just one of five FBS teams in the country who have won a bowl game each of the last three seasons, joining Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana.
- Liberty’s star quarterback Malik Willis was the third overall quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft when he was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the third round (86th overall pick).
- Additionally, Liberty had nine other players sign free agent contracts or receive mini camp invites from NFL teams (the most signees in program history).
NCAA National Championship Course Preview:
- The Grayhawk Golf Club opened to golf fans in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1994, presenting 36 holes of championship golf.
- The golf club features two full 18 hole courses – the Talcon course and the Raptor course (course hosting the national championship).
- The Raptor course, which will play 7,289 yards for the national championship, was designed by famed golf course architect Tom Fazio.
- The Raptor course is serving as the host of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Golf National Championship for the second year in a row.
NCAA National Championship Tournament Structure:
- The 2022 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship consists of a 30-team field, featuring the top five finishers from each of the six NCAA Regional sites.
- The six-day event begins with a traditional 54-hole team collegiate tournament, contested Friday through Sunday (May 27-29).
- The field will be cut to the top 15 teams for a final 18 holes of team competition on Monday (May 30).
- The top individual at the end of play on Monday will be crowned the 2022 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship individual medalist.
- The top eight teams from four rounds of stroke play will advance to the match play portion of the national championship.
- Quarterfinal (Tuesday morning) and semifinal (Tuesday afternoon) matches will be played on Tuesday, May 31.
- The final two teams will square off in one additional round of match play on Wednesday, June 1 to determine the 2022 team national champion.
- The final round of stroke play on Monday and all three rounds of match play on Tuesday and Wednesday will be televised on the Golf Channel.
Scouting the Field (30 teams):
- The 30-team national championship field will be the toughest field the Flames have faced throughout the 2022 spring season.
- The only top-25 teams in the country not to advance to this year’s NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship event were No. 9 Washington, No. 15 Georgia, No. 19 Illinois, No. 20 Notre Dame, No. 21 LSU, No. 22 Tennessee and No. 24 Clemson.
- The lowest ranking team in the field is No. 30 seed College of Charleston, who finished the regular season ranked No. 53 in the latest Golfstat national rankings.
Looking at the Latest Rankings (Golfstat rankings as of 5/20/22):
No. 1 seed Oklahoma (No. 1)
No. 2 seed Oklahoma State (No. 2)
No. 3 seed Vanderbilt (No. 3)
No. 4 seed Arizona State (No. 4)
No. 5 seed North Carolina (No. 5)
No. 6 seed Pepperdine (No. 6)
No. 7 seed Texas (No. 7)
No. 8 seed Texas Tech (No. 8)
No. 9 seed Florida (No. 10)
No. 10 seed Georgia Tech (No. 11)
No. 11 seed Texas A&M (No. 12)
No. 12 seed Stanford (No. 16)
No. 13 seed Arkansas (No. 14)
No. 14 seed Georgia (No. 13)
No. 15 seed Wake Forest (No. 17)
No. 16 seed Auburn (No. 18)
No. 17 seed Florida State (No. 22)
No. 18 seed Ole Miss (No. 25)
No. 19 seed Kansas (No. 29)
No. 20 seed Arizona (No. 33)
No. 21 seed Oregon (No. 28)
No. 22 seed East Tennessee State (No. 30)
No. 23 seed South Florida (No. 40)
No. 24 seed Ohio State (No. 35)
No. 25 seed North Florida (No. 39)
No. 26 seed Liberty (No. 38)
No. 27 seed BYU (No. 46)
No. 28 seed Georgia Southern (No. 49)
No. 29 seed Utah (No. 50)
No. 30 seed College of Charleston (No. 53)
- Grayhawk Golf Club (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
- Par 70, 7,289 yards
Following the Flames at NCAA National Championship:
- Live stats will be available at Golfstat.com
- Twitter @LibertyGolf
- Instagram @LibertyGolf
- Round 1 Tee Time: Friday at 7:27 a.m./PST (No. 1 tee)