CARMEL, Ind. – James Blackwell played even through the opening two rounds at the Mid-American Conference Championships to lead the Ball State men's golf team Friday.
Ball State is fifth as a team with a 36-hole total of 590 (+14). The Cardinals opened with a 292 in the morning round and posted a 298 in the afternoon at Prairie View Golf Club.
Kent State, looking for its sixth straight MAC title, leads the field at 570 (-6). The Golden Flashes own a five-stroke lead over Akron (-1) heading into Saturday's third round. Toledo (+3) is third and Eastern Michigan (+8) is fourth.
"We got off to good starts in both rounds," Ball State head coach Mike Fleck said. "We gave some shots away in the first round but still had pretty good productivity throughout the lineup. In the second round, we had a really good score from James and a couple other decent scores, but we were missing that fourth score."
Blackwell is five shots back on the individual leaderboard in a tie for eighth place after rounds of 74 and 70. The sophomore from Buffalo, N.Y., birdied the first three holes of his second round and four of his first six on the way to the lowest round of his college career.
Kent State's Corey Conners and Akron's Charlie Bull are tied for the lead at 5-under. Conners, the 2012 MAC Championships medalist, carded the round of the day with a 67 in the afternoon.
Tyler Merkel and Keegan McKinney are the next Cardinals on the leaderboard in a tie for 20th at 148 (+4). Merkel's 2-under 70 was the second-best first round of any player in the field, but he dropped with a 78 in the afternoon. McKinney struggled with consistency off the tee but scrambled his way to rounds of 73 and 75.
Ball State will play in the second wave of teams Saturday with tee times starting at 8:40 a.m. The Cardinals will be paired with Eastern Michigan and Bowling Green. The fourth and final round will be played Sunday.
"Luckily, we have a lot of golf to play," Fleck said. "I feel like we are in a good position to move up, having not played our best golf yet."
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