PINEHURST, N.C. -- Tyler Merkel shot a 1-under par round of 70 to lead the Ball State men's golf team Sunday on the opening day of the Golf Pride Pinehurst Intercollegiate.
Merkel is tied for fourth place individually after 18 holes of the 54-hole event, while Ball State sits in fifth place on the 17-team leaderboard at 9-over par 293.
Sunday's round was played on the par-71, 6,832-yard layout at Pinehurst No. 6, and the action for Monday's second round will shift to the famed No. 2 course.
Ball State is seven shots back of tournament leader Old Dominion, while Villanova and VCU are tied for second at 7-over and UNCG is fourth at 8-over.
Marshall's Nathan Kerns leads the tournament after a round of 68, followed by UNCG's Taylor Coalson and VCU's Jake McNulty in second with rounds of 69. Merkel is one of five golfers who are two shots off the lead and tied for fourth.
Merkel dropped three shots in his first four holes Sunday but then had a clean scorecard the rest of the way. He recorded four birdies, including two in the final three holes, to climb into red figures.
Tony Lazzara turned in a round of 1-over par 72 and will enter Monday's second round in a tie for 12th place. Joe Gasser followed three opening bogeys with three straight birdies on his way to a 3-over 74 and a tie for 28th.
Brodie Williams, who is competing this week as an individual, tied for Ball State's second-best round of the day as he matched Lazzara with a 72.
The tournament continues with 18 holes Monday on Pinehurst No. 2 and then returns to the No. 6 course for the final 18 holes Tuesday. Live scoring is available at golfstat.com.