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Merkel led Ball State to the Firestone Invitational title.
Photo by: BSU Photo Services /BSU Photo Services
Merkel Named MAC Men's Golfer of the Week

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Ball State junior Tyler Merkel, coming off a second-place finish at the Firestone Invitational, was selected Wednesday as the Mid-American Conference Men's Golfer of the Week.

Merkel carded a 36-hole score of 4-under par 140 (68-72) to place second out of 90 golfers in the tournament played Monday and Tuesday. He finished just one shot off the lead on the par-72, 7,125-yard Firestone Country Club North Course. Merkel's opening-day 68, which featured five birdies and just one bogey, was tied for the low round of the tournament.

The Evansville, Ind., product led Ball State to the team championship with a team score of 7-under par over the two days. The Cardinals pulled away from the 17-team field, winning by 13 strokes over their nearest competitor, 22nd-rated Saint Mary's. The tournament was scheduled for 54 holes but was shortened to 36 because of a frost delay on day one.

Ball State's Joe Gasser finished just one shot back of Merkel in a tie for third place, while Tony Lazzara tied for 12th and Alex Stinson tied for 17th to give the Cardinals four golfers in the top 20.

For Merkel, who tied for fourth in Ball State's last outing at September's Golfweek Conference Challenge, the Firestone Invitational marked his second straight top-5 result. Just three events into his junior season, he already owns nine career top-10 finishes.

An NCAA Regional participant last season, Merkel leads the Cardinals this fall with a 72.75 scoring average. He has now been honored as the MAC Golfer of the Week five times in his career, having won the award three times as a sophomore and once as a freshman.

The Ball State men's golf team will play its lone home event of the season next week with the Earl Yestingsmeier Invitational, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 15-16, at Delaware Country Club. The tournament is the fourth of five events on the Cardinals' fall schedule.

With its strong performance at the Firestone Invitational, Ball State climbed to No. 41 in the latest Golfstat Relative Rankings.

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