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McCormick Clouser led Ball State in the final round with an even-par 72.
Photo by: Jim Dostie
Menís Golf Climbs to 7th, Vandy Wins at Talis Park
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NAPLES, Fla. -- Vanderbilt, the nation’s No. 21-ranked team, held onto its overnight lead Monday to win the inaugural Talis Park Challenge hosted by the Ball State men’s golf team.

The Cardinals matched Vanderbilt and Indiana for the second-best round of the day at 299 (+11) to vault five spots up the leaderboard into seventh place. Keegan McKinney and McCormick Clouser each finished in the top 15 to lead the Cardinals on the individual leaderboard at Talis Park Golf Club.

Carson Jacobs of Vanderbilt and Marco Iten of Austin Peay tied for individual medalist honors at 1-under par 215 for the event. Iten started the day five shots off the lead but was one of only three players in the field to break par in the final round, moving up with a 3-under 69. Jacobs, who started two shots back of teammate Charlie Ewing, closed with a 72.

Vanderbilt’ 36-hole team lead shrunk by just one shot despite the Commodores posting their highest round of the tournament on another windy day. Vandy finished at 7 over (871), 19 shots clear of a Wichita State team that posted the best final round with a 298.

Austin Peay (+37), FGCU (+38) and Notre Dame (+44) rounded out the top five, while Indiana (+52) was one spot ahead of Ball State in sixth. The Cardinals were the top finisher among the five Mid-American Conference teams in the 14-team field at 920 (+56)

McKinney, a freshman from Avon, Ind., recorded the best finish of his young career with a tie for 13th. He closed with his best round of the tournament, a 1-over 73, to finish at 223 (+7).

Clouser finished one shot behind McKinney in a tie for 15th after firing the Cardinals’ best round of the day with a 72. The junior from Bluffton, Ind., shot even-par in two of the tournament’s three rounds but was out of the mix at the top after a second-round 80.

James Blackwell carded his best round of the tournament Monday with a 74, while Tyler Merkel was Ball State’s final counter with an 80. Blackwell’s 54-hole total was 235, while Merkel’s was 238.

Zach Yinger shot an 81 in the final round to finish at 254. Albert Jennings, competing as an individual, also shot an 81 and ended his tournament at 240.

The Talis Park course that hosted the tournament was designed by Greg Norman and Pete Dye and has been ranked by Golf Digest as one of the top 20 courses in Florida. Ball State alum Dave Witt serves as the club’s director of golf.

Ball State will return to action as a team April 5-6 at Vanderbilt’s Mason Rudolph Invitational at Legends Golf Course in Franklin, Tenn. The Cardinals will send individuals to compete March 24-25 at the Butler Spring Invitational at Prestwick Golf Course in Avon, Ind.

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