College Golf

Lindstrom, Liberty back to defend title at Rees Jones Collegiate Invitational

12-team tournament on Daufuskie Island begins Sunday

sports@islandpacket.comSeptember 21, 2013 

Liberty University junior golfer Niklas Lindstrom hits a shot during the final round of the 2012 Rees Jones Collegiate Invitational at Haig Point on Daufuskie Island, S.C. Lindstrom and the Flames are back again for this year's tournament.

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY PHOTO

Liberty University ran away with the Rees Jones Collegiate Invitational by 26 strokes last year at Haig Point on Daufuskie Island.

The bad news for the rest of this year's 12-team field? The Flames are back.

Senior Niklas Lindstrom, last year's medalist, and two teammates who tied for second place are among the individuals who make Liberty the favorite to repeat as champion of the tournament, which runs Sunday through Tuesday.

Lindstrom's three-round total of 3-under-par 213 was good for a six-stroke victory. Among the four tied for second place were his teammates, Ian McConnell and Chase Marinell, who also return for their senior seasons. McConnell had the low round of the tournament with a 4-under 68 in the first round.

Liberty is one of six teams in the field that advanced to postseason play a year ago. The others are two-time tournament champion Kennesaw State, South Carolina, South Florida, UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Wilmington.

"Our field has been getting a bit stronger each year, and that has been the goal all along," said Bill McDonald, head golf coach at the University of South Carolina, the host school for the event.

"We are also going to a three-day format and that should really make things interesting. We were playing 36 holes on the first day and this golf course just proves too demanding for that. I am really looking forward to the event and hoping that this is our year."

South Carolina finished third behind Liberty and East Carolina a year ago, when the top four individual scores counted toward the team score each day.

This year, McDonald has four starters back from a year ago, led by sophomore Matthew NeSmith, winner of the 2011 Sea Pines Junior Heritage.

"We had a good year in 2012-13, but we should be stronger," McDonald said.

The remainder of the field includes Charleston Southern, East Carolina, Georgia State, Middle Tennessee State, Troy and Winthrop.

6th annual Rees Jones Collegiate Invitational

When: Sunday through Tuesday

Where: Haig Point Club, Rees Jones Signature Calibogue Course, Daufuskie Island; Par 72; 7,380 yards.

Field: Defending champion Liberty, host South Carolina, Charleston Southern, East Carolina, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Middle Tennessee State, South Florida, Troy, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington and Winthrop.

Format: Each team will count the four lowest scores each round from a five-man squad in a stroke play format. Teams will play 18 holes each day.

Admission: Daily tickets are $10 (without hospitality) or $25 for an all-inclusive ticket that includes ferry transportation, food and beverages. Ferries will leave from the Haig Point Embarkation dock on Hilton Head Island at 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day.

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