NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee State Men's and Women's golf teams opened the season at the Alabama State Fall Golf Classic in Prattville, Ala., over the Labor Day weekend. The Women finished second on the par-72, 6007-yard RTJ Golf Trail at Capitol Hill: Senator Course, while the men placed third on the par-72, 7003-yard course over the two-day event. The course played tough as each day presented its own challenges. Sunday was windy with gusts reaching 20-30 MPH while the golfers dealt with off-and-on again rain throughout the final day, with a heat index of 95.
The Women cut 55 strokes off their first day score to finish with a 344 on Monday and a two-day total of 743. Freshman Kelly Merkel used two birdies during the final round to shoot a team high 82 and finished fourth overall with a 170. Markel earned a spot on the all-tournament team in her first collegiate event.
After being disqualified on day one, junior Bria Norris returned on day two to finish with the fifth highest individual score (85) of the day. Amelia Dap carded a 183 (93-90) to tie for seventh individually, while freshman Sarah Needleman shot a day two 87, cutting 14 strokes off her day one total to finish with a 188. Chelsea Marlin rounded out the TSU squad with a 228.
"We had a rough first day, but bounced back with tenacity and had a great day," said head coach Chris Seibel. "It shows what they are capable of doing, but there are still a couple things we can work on and improve our game even more".
On the men's side, TSU shot an 18-over 306 on Sunday and followed up with a 21-over 309 for a 615 team total. Sophomore James Stepp led the Tigers with a two-day score of a 5-over 149 (74-75) and was named to the all-tournament team as he tied for fourth.
Sophomore transfer Shane Sampair tied for eighth as he posted a 10-over 154 (77-77) and finished just ahead of juniors Andrew Warner (77-79=156), who holed-out with a birdie, and Codie Welborn (78-78=156) who tied for tenth. Sophomore Matt Campbell had the squad's non-counting effort of 171 (88-83).
"We struggled on both days and we were not able to get into a groove." Seibel commented. "It really shows what we need to work on, but we have a couple of weeks before we head to Atlanta where we will need to be ready to bounce back".
The Women will take to the course on September 16 as they travel to Ledbetter, Ky., to compete in the Murray State Drake Creek Invitational. The men return to the links on September 28 as they travel to Atlanta, Ga., for the National Black Hall of Fame Golf Tournament.
Follow Coach Seibel on Twitter at TSU_golf for more updates about Tennessee State golf.