NINETY SIX, S.C. – Liberty won its first Big South Conference Men’s Golf Championship with a convincing 31-shot triumph on Wednesday at The Patriot Golf Club at Grand Harbor.
Liberty finished the 54-hole event under par with an 8-under team aggregate score of 856, the third-lowest team score in championship history. The Flames, whose previous best finish was second-place in 2009, receives the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals – the program’s first postseason berth since 2006 and third overall. Liberty’s victory also ends Coastal Carolina’s Big South-record seven consecutive Men’s Golf Championship titles.
Individually, Liberty’s Preston Dembowiak maintained his 36-hole lead and finished the 54-hole tournament with a 7-under 209 (70-66-73) to claim medalist honors – the second consecutive year Liberty has produced the individual conference champion. Dembowiak struggled on the front nine with a 3-over par scorecard at the turn. In addition, his four stroke lead entering the final round dwindled to one, and he eventually dropped into a tie for first. But he rebounded with a 2-under par 34 on the back nine, which included a birdie on the par 4, No. 12 and an eagle on the par 5, No. 13 hole. Dembowiak is Liberty’s third overall Big South Medalist, joining Robert Karlsson in 2010 and Yong Joo in 2000.
Teammate Max McKay finished as the individual runner-up with a 3-under 213, while Karlsson tied for third at 2-under 214. It is the second time in three years that the top three finishers came from the same team. Gardner-Webb’s Daniel Kim (2-under 214) and Charleston Southern’s David Denlinger (1-under 215) round out the top five individual finishers.
Gardner-Webb finished second with an 887 to claim team runner-up honors by one stroke. It is the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ best finish in the tournament since joining the conference in 2009. Winthrop and Coastal Carolina tied for third at 888. The Chanticleers shot an even-par 288 on Wednesday to vault from sixth-place into third. Host Radford finished fifth with an 892, followed by Charleston Southern (898) and High Point (909). Presbyterian College also finished at 898 for the 54-hole event, but the Blue Hose are not eligible for the Conference championship and its team and individual results do not officially count in the standings due to its continued transition to Division I.
Earning All-Conference honors based on their play in the Conference Championship were Kim, Denlinger, Gardner-Webb’s J.J. Regan, and Winthrop teammates Brandon Truesdale and Kamito Hirai. The five join Dembowiak, McKay, Karlsson, Coastal Carolina’s Sebastian Soderberg and Charleston Southern’s Jacobo Pastor, who were voted to the team for their regular-season play and were announced on Sunday.