MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State men’s golf team will be in action for the fourth time is as many weeks when the Cardinals tee off Sunday at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course for the opening day of the Jack Nicklaus Invitational.
The tournament is the continuation of a grueling schedule for Ball State, which has already seen eight of the top 25 teams in the Golfstat national rankings through its first three tournaments. The Cardinals will see two of those eight again this week -- No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 16 California -- in addition to a ninth and 10th, No. 17 Kent State and No. 25 Oklahoma State.
Cal, last year’s No. 1 team, would easily be higher in the rankings but played its first tournament of the year without two of the world’s top amateur golfers, Michael Kim and Michael Weaver, who were representing the United States at the Walker Cup. With those two back in the lineup, the Bears won last week’s Saint Mary’s Invitational.
Ball State was at the same tournament, and the Cardinals finished in 15th place. Junior McCormick Clouser (T-34th), senior Tyler Merkel (T-38th) and freshman Keegan McKinney (T-42nd) all finished within three strokes of each other to pace the team at the Saint Mary’s event.
That trio, along with sophomore James Blackwell, has competed at all three tournaments this fall. They will be joined this week by junior Zach Yinger, who will make his debut as part of the Ball State lineup. Yinger, who will be returning to his home state of Ohio, has competed in five events as an individual during his Ball State career.
The four top-25 teams competing at the Nicklaus Invitational highlight a strong field in which all 12 teams are ranked among the top 120 in the country. The full field also includes tournament host Ohio State, North Carolina, Mississippi State, Purdue, Long Beach State, Eastern Michigan and East Tennessee State. Kent State won the tournament last year.The two-day, 54-hole event features two rounds Sunday with a 9 a.m. shotgun start and the final round Monday with teams going off split tees at 8:15 a.m. The Scarlet Course will play to a par-71, 7,455-yard layout. Live scoring throughout the tournament is available at golfstat.com.