PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Tennessee State women’s golf team completed day one of the 30th PGA Minority Collegiate Championship in third place. This Tigers combined for a 44-over, 332, on the PGA Golf Club Par-72, 5,745 yard, Ryder Course.
Bethune-Cookman leads the pack at 7-over, eight strokes ahead of second place Chicago State. The Tigers hold a two shot lead over Hampton and are five strokes in front of Texas A&M International.
Seniors Sarah Needleman and Kelly Merkel lead the way for TSU as they are in 12th and 15th place, respectively, in the field of 28. Shamiso Hatchard of B-CU leads for individual honors with a 1-over, 73.
Needleman sits five shots back of Hatchard after carding a 6-over, 78. The Fishers, Ind. native birdied the par-4,8th, by knocking an 8-iron from 120-yards in to 10 feet of the flag, before making the putt. Needleman hit 12-of-14 fairways and found 11 greens in regulation, while averaging less than two putts per hole.
Merkel did not register a birdie on the day as she fired a 9-over, 81. The Columbia, Tenn. product opened the day with an up-and-down sand save on the par-4, 1st. Merkel blasted out of the front-left bunker in front of the green to a foot of the hole. Merkel used 36 putts on the day and hit seven fairways and 10 greens.
Natalie Spicer is two shots behind Merkel after an 11-over after the first round. The junior converted on 10 pars as she hit 13 fairways and six greens. Spicer used five up-and-downs to save par to pace her play.
Paige Harlin recorded a team scoring 90, as she hit nine fairways on Friday. The freshman highlighted the day on the par-4, 17th. Harlin missed right on her approach shot right and chipped chipped on from 30-yards out. Harlin closed out the hole by sinking a 30 foot putt to save par.
The top three teams, TSU, B-CU and CSU, will be paired together for Saturday's. Needleman will be the first Tiger on the course at 8:30am ET. Kelly Merkel is next on the course at 8:39am, followed by Spicer at 8:48am and Harlin at 8:57am.
12. Sarah Needleman -- 78
15. Kelly Merkel -- 81
17. Natalie Spicer -- 83
24. Paige Harlin -- 90
1. Bethune-Cookman University -- 295
2. Chicago State University -- 303
3. Tennessee State University -- 332
4. Hampton University -- 334
5. Texas A&M International University -- 337
6. University of Houston-Victoria -- 359