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Keegan McKinney closed with a round of 2-under par 70.
Photo by: BSU Photo Services /BSU Photo Services
Merkel, McKinney Finish Strong at Golfweek Challenge

BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Tyler Merkel finished in a tie for fifth place Tuesday and freshman Keegan McKinney turned in the best final round for the Ball State men’s golf team at the Golfweek Conference Challenge.

The Cardinals posted a team score of 291, more than a 10-shot improvement on their opening two rounds, but remained in 13th place in the final standings. With a three-day total of 896, Ball State was just one stroke out of 11th place and four strokes out of 10th at Spirit Hollow Golf Course.

Oklahoma held onto its overnight lead, finishing at 7-under par 857 for the tournament. The Sooners held off a hard-charging Virginia Tech team that matched the low round of the tournament Tuesday with a 278 to finish at 3-under for the week, joining Oklahoma as the only teams in red figures.

Virginia Tech’s Scott Vincent and LSU’s Stewart Jolly shared individual medalist honors at 6-under.

Merkel, who entered the day tied for the lead, turned in his second straight even-par round to finish at 3-under 213 for the tournament. The senior was 3-over on Tuesday’s round before birdies on three of his last five holes moved him back into a top-5 finish for the 12th time in his career.

McKinney concluded a solid week with his second under-par round of the tournament and the only one by a Cardinal in the final round. The freshman, playing in just his second event, carded five birdies on his way to a 2-under round of 70. He finished in a tie for 21st place at 1-over for the week.

The Cardinals also counted a 74 from James Blackwell and a 75 from McCormick Clouser on Tuesday. Blackwell finished with a 54-hole total of 231, while Clouser ended up at 235. Freshman Quentyn Carpenter closed with his best round of the tournament, a 76, to finish with a three-day total of 241.

The Golfweek Conference Challenge featured 15 teams from 15 different conferences with 12 of those teams having finished last year in the top 100 of the national rankings.

Ball State continues its fall schedule next week at the Saint Mary’s College Invitational in Monterey, Calif. The tournament, which includes No. 1-ranked California, gets underway Monday.

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