Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee State women’s golf team recorded the two best rounds in school history on day one of the Fifth Annual Drake Creek Invitational hosted by Murray State. The first two rounds were played under mostly sunny skies with the temperatures reaching 96 at the 6,178-yard, Par-72 Drake Creek Golf Club in Ledbetter, Ky. With the humidity at 58% and a slight breeze, the heat index reached 108.
Over the first 18 holes, the Tigers carded a school-best 335. Freshman Erica Edwards led the way with a 78 and was followed by Kelly Merkel (82), Natalie Spicer (87) and Sarah Needleman (88).
“I couldn’t be any happier with the girls sticking to the process,” head coach Parrish McGrath said. “The greatest thing is we had the two best rounds in school history and yet you still see plenty we can improve upon. It just lets us know where we can go and that the program is heading in the right direction.”
TSU (335-350=685) sits in tenth place 33 strokes behind SIU Edwardsville. Murray State leads the pack with a 16-over, 592 and sports the individual leader, as senior Delaney Howson entered the clubhouse with a 4-under, 140.
Edwards (78-79=157) finished the day in 19th with a 13-over and is just three strokes out of the top 10. The freshman was consistent with her play finding nine greens in each round, while driving 29 fairways. Edwards carded five birdies on the day, three in the first and two in the second. On her second hole of the day, Edwards used a lob wedge from 60-yards out to within four feet of the pin on her third shot on the par-5, 13th to convert her first birdie of the day. The Murfreesboro native dropped a 12-foot putt for her second birdie of the morning session on the par-16th. During round two, Edwards registered birdies on the ninth and the 15th, both par-4’s.
Spicer (87-86=173) found 21 fairways and 14 greens in regulation on day one. The freshman highlighted her day with a pair of birdies during the second round. Spicer drained a 35-foot putt on the par-5, 2nd for her first birdie of the day. The Springfield native found the fairway with a 220-yard drive off the tee box and used a hybrid on her second shot to layup 140-yards out. Spicer found the green with a seven iron leaving her the lengthy putt. Three holes later on the par-3, 5th, Spicer hit a 6-iron off the box from 150-yards out to within 12-feet setting up her second 1-under hole of the round.
Merkel (82-93=175) started the day off on a high note as she converted a 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-5, 13th. Merkel followed with up and downs on 14 and 16 to save pars. The sophomore hit 12 fairways and 11 greens over the first two rounds and used 64 putts on the day.
Needleman (88-95=183) sank her first birdie of the tournament in the second round on the par-3, 7th. Needleman used a 7-wood off the box to within six feet in front of the pin. The sophomore was able to read the up-hill, slight bend to the right putt correctly to record the birdie. Needleman dropped four separate putts from over ten feet to save par over the first 18 holes. Needleman hit 21 fairways, 12 greens and averaged 34 putts per round.
Sophomore transfer Laura Bremer (96-92=188) hit 12 fairways and 12 greens over the first 36 holes. Bremer averaged 37.5 putts per round and was able to convert four up and downs on Monday.
“Tomorrow, I look for a little bit more consistency now that they know the course,” said coach McGrath. “We are going to go back and game plan for the holes that got us in both rounds today. I plan on coming back tomorrow and breaking the record we set today.”
The final round will have an 8:30am shotgun start on Tuesday morning.