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Tyler Merkel posted an even-par second round of 72.
Photo by: Walt Middleton Photography
Merkel Tied for 36-Hole Lead at Golfweek Challenge
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BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Ball State men’s golfer Tyler Merkel carded an even-par 72 in Monday’s second round to stay at the top of the Golfweek Conference Challenge leaderboard.

The senior from Evansville, Ind., is 3-under through two rounds and will enter the final day at Spirit Hollow Golf Course in a four-way tie for first place with Stewart Jolly of LSU, James Newton of Central Arkansas and Beau Titsworth of Oklahoma. A total of 10 players are under par.

As a team, the Cardinals posted a score of 302 on Monday, one stroke better than their opening-round performance. At 29-over through 36 holes, Ball State is 13th in a 15-team field that includes 12 top-100 teams from a year ago.

Oklahoma opened up a 13-stroke lead Monday with the only under-par round of the day. The Sooners posted a 10-under team total of 278 to get to 8-under for the tournament. First-round leader Houston is second at 5-over, followed by New Mexico in third at 6-over.

The tournament will conclude Tuesday with the final 18 holes as Merkel chases his fourth career victory. Live scoring is available at golfstat.com.

Merkel recovered from a double bogey on his sixth hole of the day, Spirit Hollow’s 15th, by starting his second nine with back-to-back birdies. He then closed with seven straight pars, giving him 15 pars on the day, to get into the clubhouse at even for his round.

Keegan McKinney and James Blackwell carded rounds of 76 to tie for Ball State’s second-best score.

McKinney made the turn at even par for his round and 1-under for the tournament. The freshman was hanging in the top 10 individually until a triple bogey on his 14th hole of the day dropped him down the leaderboard. He is still just six shots off the lead and will enter the final round in a tie for 25th.

Blackwell started strong just like his opening round before finding trouble on his second nine, Spirit Hollow's front side. He turned at 2-under for his round but played the back in 42, including a quadruple bogey on his 13th hole. He is 13-over for the tournament.

Ball State’s final counter Monday was McCormick Clouser, who carded a round of 78 and sits at 16-over for the tournament. Quentyn Carpenter rounded out the lineup with an 82, bringing his two-day score to 21-over.

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