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Tyler Merkel also finished fourth at last year's Golfweek Conference Challenge.
Photo by: BSU Photo Services /BSU Photo Services
Merkel Finishes Fourth, Men's Golf Fifth at Golfweek

BURLINGTON, Iowa -- The Ball State men's golf team wrapped up the Golfweek Conference Challenge on Tuesday in fifth place out of 15 teams and had four golfers among the top 25 out of 75 competitors on the individual leaderboard.

The Cardinals posted a team score of 9-over par 297 in Tuesday's final round to finish at 14-over 878 (289-292-297) for the tournament, just one shot out of fourth place. They trailed only a Missouri team that has won both of its tournaments this fall and three teams that played in NCAA Regionals last year.

Missouri led wire-to-wire and finished at 7-under (857) on the par-72 Spirit Hollow Golf Course that played to 7,010 yards. Wake Forest was second at 1-over (865), followed by Tulsa in third at 3-over (867) and host school Iowa in fourth at 13-over (877).

Ball State junior Tyler Merkel tied for fourth place individually at 3-under 213 (72-70-71). He had only one bogey on the card for his final-round 71 and played all three rounds at par or better. It was the second straight top 5 result at the Golfweek Conference Challenge for Merkel, who also placed fourth at last year's event.

Missouri's Jace Long led after each of the three rounds and finished as the individual medalist at 9-under par (207). Chris Worrell of Tulsa and Steven Ihm of Iowa tied for second at 7-under (209).

Ball State senior Alex Stinson, who opened with his BSU career-low round of 69, tied for 15th at 4-over 220 (69-75-76). Fellow seniors Brodie Williams and Joe Gasser were the other Cardinals to finish among the top 25. Williams tied for 21st at 6-over 222 (75-73-74), while Gasser tied for 24th at 7-over 223 (73-74-76).

Freshman James Blackwell rounded out the Ball State contingent at 16-over 232 (75-78-79). It was the second event of his collegiate career and his first competing as part of Ball State's five-member lineup.

The annual Golfweek Conference Challenge brings together 15 teams from 15 different conferences.

This week marked Ball State's second straight appearance at the event with the Cardinals improving on last year's seventh-place finish.

Ball State continues its fall season in three weeks when it heads to Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio for the Firestone Invitational. The tournament is scheduled for Oct. 8-9. The Cardinals will host their own Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational Oct. 15-16 at Delaware Country Club in Muncie.
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