The Cardinals are sixth in a strong 15-team field after one round of the Northern Intercollegiate at Rich Harvest Farms. Tee times for Saturday’s second round begin at 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET) on the par-72, 7,236-yard track.
Ball State posted a team score of 5-over par 293 on Friday. Three teams turned in under par rounds, led by Houston at 9-under 279. Liberty is second at 7-under, followed by Kentucky in third at 2-under.
Merkel, a co-medalist at the Northern Intercollegiate two years ago, and Blackwell are tied for 11th place on the individual leaderboard. Blackwell, a sophomore from Buffalo, N.Y., birdied his final two holes of the day to get back into red figures.
Houston’s Blair Hamilton and Kentucky’s David Snyder lead the way individually after opening with rounds of 67. Of the 88 golfers in the field, 18 finished Friday with below-par scores.
McCormick Clouser carded a 74 for Ball State and will enter round two in a tie for 28th place. Cardinal freshmen Jon Schram and Keegan McKinney each played their first collegiate rounds Friday, turning in scores of 77 and 78, respectively, to round out the five-man lineup.
Ball State’s Tyler Ostrom is also competing this week as an individual. He opened with a round of 79.
The field at Rich Harvest Farms includes 13 teams that competed in NCAA Regionals last season and three teams, including Ball State, that advanced to NCAA Nationals. The new-look Cardinals are working three young players into the lineup this week, but they find themselves in the mix through one round.
McKinney will lead the Cardinals’ lineup off the first tee Saturday at 8:45 a.m. CT (9:45 a.m. ET). Live scoring for the entire tournament is available at golfstat.com.