LYNCHBURG, Va. – No. 4 seed Liberty will begin its quest to advance to the national championship for the second time in program history next Monday when the Flames tee it up at the 2019 NCAA Athens Regional.
The three-day, 54-hole event will be played at the University of Georgia Golf Course (par 71, 7,253 yards) in Athens, Ga. The course serves as the home of the Georgia Bulldogs men's and women's golf programs. A practice round will be held on Sunday, May 12 with the tournament getting underway on Monday, May 13.
The top five teams from each of the six NCAA Regionals will advance to the 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Championship at The Blessings Golf Course in Fayetteville, Ark., May 24-29.
Now on The Tee – Liberty's Starting Five (Season Stroke Average):
· Ervin Chang (71.10)
· Gabe Lench (71.31)
· Kieran Vincent (72.28)
· Jonathan Yaun (73.53)
· Alexandre Fuchs (73.25)
· Alternate: Zach Barbin (74.29)
Tournament Reflections – Liberty's Last Showing at the NCAA Regionals:
- Liberty is making the program's 10th appearance at an NCAA Men's Golf Regional and the eighth in the last nine years.
- No. 7 seed Liberty finished tied for eighth place at the 2018 NCAA Raleigh Regional, posting a score of 12-under par 840 (280-277-283) at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, N.C.
- Liberty finished six shots out of fifth place, as Arizona State was the final team to advance to the NCAA Men's Golf National Championship with a score of 18-under par 834 (276-283-275).
- Graduated senior Mickey DeMorat was Liberty's top finisher in 2018, sharing 16th place with a 4-under par 209 (70-69-70).
- Three of Liberty's starting five players at the NCAA Athens Regional played at last year's NCAA Raleigh Regional.
- Alexandre Fuchs tied for 40th place with an even par 213 (70-70-73), Ervin Chang tied for 45th place with a 1-over par 214 (71-72-71) and Gabe Lench finished tied for 51stplace with a 3-over par 216 (69-69-78).
- Liberty is looking to make its second trip to the NCAA Men's Golf Championship in program history.
- 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.
From the 18th Green – Recapping Liberty's Last Time Out:
· In its first-ever appearance at the ASUN Men's Golf Championship, Liberty finished as the runner-up, posting a score of 6-over par 870 (297-287-286) at Legends Course at Chateau Elan Golf Club (par 72, 7,032 yards) in Braselton, Ga.
· The Flames finish 12 stroke behind North Florida, who posted a 6-under par 858 (289-283-286), claiming their second conference title in a row and sixth in the last 10 years.
· The tournament turned into a two-team race during the final two days of competition with Jacksonville finishing 17 strokes behind Liberty to take third place with a 23-over par 887 (304-295-288).
· Kieran Vincent closed the event strong, finishing off the tournament with a 3-under par 69, which included four front-nine birdies, to post his best tournament of the season with a 1-under par 215 (72-74-69).
· Vincent led the 40-team field in par-3 scoring, playing the par-3 holes at a scoring average of 2.75 (3-under par).
· Gabe Lench, who was ranked No. 56 in the country coming into the event, recorded his sixth career top-5 finish, sharing third place with Vincent by carding a 1-under par 215 (74-69-72).
· Liberty's lone senior in the Flames' starting lineup made a back nine charge to climb back into the top-five, including back-to-back birdies on the par-4 No. 17 (481 yards) and No. 18 (432 yards).
Birdies and Bogeys – Liberty Team Notes:
· Liberty's No. 4 seed is the highest NCAA Regional seeding in program history.
- The Flames enter the NCAA Athens Regional ranked No. 22 in the Golfstat national rankings.
- Following the runner-up finish at the Linger Longer Invitational (March 15-17), Liberty's national ranking climbed to an all-time program high of No. 18 on March 20.
- The Flames have two individual golfers who currently rank inside the top-75 in the country: Ervin Chang (No. 31) and Gabe Lench (No. 53).
- Liberty earned automatic bids to the NCAA Regionals with conference titles in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 as a member of the Big South Conference.
- This year's NCAA Regional selection was the program's fifth at-large selection into regional play. The Flames also advanced to postseason regional play with an at-large selection in 2003, 2006, 2013 and 2017.
- 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.
NCAA Regional Course Preview:
· The University of Georgia Golf Course opened in 1968 with the purpose of supporting the university community and a collegiate golf program.
· Over the years, the course has become an important recreation facility not only for the University, but for the state of Georgia as a whole.
· Avid golfer Dr. Omer C. Aderhold served as the University of Georgia's President from 1950-67 and was a driving force behind the creation of the UGA Golf Course.
· The University already owned the land and Dr. Aderhold was a personal friend of Robert Trent Jones Sr., the golf course's architect.
· The last time the course hosted an NCAA Regional, Alabama won the Athens Regional in 2012 with a winning score 24-under par 828 (269-276-283).
· Alabama finished well ahead of the rest of the field with the four other teams advancing out of the Athens Regional being second place East Carolina (1-over par 853), third place North Florida (6-over par 858), fourth place Georgia (12-over par 864) and fifth place Iowa (14-over par 866).
Scouting the Field (13 teams):
· The 13-team Athens Regional field is mostly comprised of at-large selections, with only four teams in the field earning their spot in the regional field by an automatic bid.
· The four automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Athens Regional include No. 7 seed Campbell (Big South Conference), No. 11 Memphis (American Athletic Conference), No. 12 seed UNC Wilmington (Colonial Athletic Association) and No. 13 seed Princeton (Ivy League).
Looking at the Latest Rankings (Golfstat rankings as of 5/1/19):
No. 1 seed Vanderbilt (No. 4)
No. 2 seed Duke (No. 9)
No. 3 seed Georgia (No. 16)
No. 4 Liberty (No. 22)
No. 5 Alabama (No. 28)
No. 6 Tennessee (No. 33)
No. 7 Campbell (No. 40)
No. 8 Kentucky (No. 45)
No. 9 Nevada (No. 52)
No. 10 SMU (No. 60)
No. 11 Memphis (No. 80)
No. 12 UNC Wilmington (No. 112)
No. 13 Princeton (No. 149)
Roland Massimino, Kansas State
Jacob Eklund, Kansas State
Eduardo Carrete, Jacksonville
Keller Harper, Furman
Jeremy Gandon, Kansas State
Billy Tom Sargent, Western Kentucky
Logan Sowell, College of Charleston
John Gough, Charlotte
Jordan Warnock, University of South Carolina Upstate
Will Halamandaris, Lafayette
· University of Georgia Golf Course (Athens, Ga.)
· Par 71, 7,253 yards
Following the Flames at NCAA Athens Regional:
· Live stats will be available at Golfstat.com
· Twitter @LibertyGolf
· Instagram @LibertyGolf
· Round 1 Tee Time: Monday at 8:00 a.m./EST (No. 10 tee)