Murray, Ky. - The Tennessee State women's golf team opened the tournament portion of the 2013 spring season at the Time Warner Racer Golf Classic on Monday. The Tigers completed the first day of the two-day, 36-hole event at the Par-72, 6,017 yard Miller Memorial Golf Course. The conditions were less than ideal with temperatures in the upper 30's and wind gusts from 15-18 miles per hour.
The saturated course and changes to their game plan slowed the Tigers through the first round. TSU shot a 97-over, 385, well behind the host, and first day leader, Murray State who ended the day with a 24-Over, 312.
"Today was a tough day," said head coach Parrish McGrath. "We have not had many good practice days the last month, making the swing changes we are going through difficult to sustain. I did see signs of the transformation beginning to take place, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labor."
Kelly Merkel found the fairway on 13-of-14 fairways and used 10 pars on the first 18 to enter the clubhouse with an 8-over 80, good for a four-way tie for sixth place. Merkel is eight strokes behind Delaney Howson of Murray State, who leads heading in the final day. The freshman is just four strokes out of second place.
Merkel made par on six consecutive holes, which were the 12th through 17th holes of play, after starting the day on the par-5, 13th. The Columbia, Tenn., native saved bogey on the final hole of the day to finish at 8-over. Merkel landed short in a hazard on the par-5, 12th. She placed her fifth shot, from 60-yards out, to within six feet of the pin. The first-year was able to sink the putt and avoid any other disaster.
Amelia Dap used pars on the sixth and eleventh to post an 18-over, 90. The red-shirt freshman is just six strokes from entering the top 20. On the dogleg par-4 6th, Dap used a three wood on her second shot to reach the green and two putted to even the hole. The Murfreesboro product drained a 20 foot putt on the par-4 11th to avoid losing a stroke.
"We have a young team and we are learning how to manage play on the course, as well as a few new swing thoughts," McGrath commented. "We have to be patient and stick to the program and we will soon see the lower scores as a reflection."
The second round of 18 will begin on Tuesday morning with a 9 am shotgun start.