Gusting winds and extreme heat did not get in the way of Ball State's Tyler Merkel, who finished three-under par to win the 112th Indiana Amateur Championship at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel Indiana.
The field consisted of 156 amateurs from all over Indiana, which was cut down to 60 after 36 holes. Merkel won the event after firing a 71-74-70-70=285.
Headed into the final round, Merkel shared the lead with former Ball State player and mid-amateur, Scott Pieri. On the first hole of the day, Merkel made a 15-foot putt for birdie and Pieri failed to get up-and-down for par, giving Merkel an immediate two-shot lead.
On the par 5 number 13, Pieri played aggressively, and went for the green in two from about 250 yards, while Merkel played conservatively, and laid up down the left hand side. Pieri's risk paid off, as he made birdie to Merkel's par, putting him within one shot of the lead. Merkel went on to birdie 14, and Pieri was unable to catch him in their final holes.
"I had a crazy week," said Pieri. "I had a triple bogey, two double bogeys, a two-shot penalty for giving a spectator a ride in my cart, and a whiff today." Despite Pieri's ups and downs, he played very steady for four days, finishing the tournament at even par, 288.
Pieri and Merkel played together for the last two days and Pieri commented, "Tyler was everything I heard he was, and I really enjoyed getting to play with him."
As previously mentioned, Merkel is a rising junior at Ball State University, who recently qualified for the NCAA regionals as an individual, and finished third at last year's Indiana State Open.
"It hasn't hit me yet," Merkel said after two-putting for the win on 18. "It feels awesome, though."
Merkel finished the tournament at three-under par, 285, and won $750 worth of merchandise from Prairie View Golf Club.
Former Ball State golfer Todd Palmer, and Bobby Delagrange tied for third with a two-over par 290.
Tony Lazzara, who will be a senior member of the Ball State men's golf team this fall, tied for eighth with a 79-71-70-75=295. Senior Brodie Williams tied for 19th with a 78-68-75-79=299, and Joe Gasser, who will be a senior this fall, tied for 20th with a 72-72-79-79=302.