LEDBETTER, Ky. – Sarah Needleman recorded her career best round a week ago and needed just seven days to set a new mark. After carding an 86 in the first round of the day, the junior shot an 82 on her second go around, as the Tigers played 36 holes of the 54-hole event on Monday at the Jan Weaver - Murray State Invitational in Ledbetter, Ky.
The first two rounds were contested under clear skies and temperatures in the mid-80’s at the Par-72, 6,178 yard, Drake Creek Golf Club. The Tigers sit in 12th place and were led by Kelly Merkel with a two-round 166, two shots in front of Needleman. Sophomore Natalie Spicer added to the Tigers score, finishing one stroke behind Needleman at 169.
Southern Illinois leads the team event after individual leader, Brooke Cusamano, shot a 4-under, 68 during the later round. The Salukies hold a 12-stroke lead on second place Western Kentucky.
Needleman (86-82=168) stayed consistent off the tee box hitting 13 fairways in the first round and 12 in the second, going 25-of-28 on the day. The Fisher, Ind. native posted an up-and-down in each round on Monday and capped off the career best performance on the second to last hole of the day, from 15-yards out to save par.
Merkel (80-86=166) scored three birdies on the day, two in round one. In the afternoon session, Merkel used a knock down 8-iron off the box on the par-3, 5th, to within two feet of the hole, setting up the 1-under. The junior delivered solid play with 12 fairways and 11 greens during the morning before falling off a bit, finding only six fairways during the second 18.
Spicer (85-84=169) notched the first of her two birdies of the day on her final hole of the first round at the par-4, 10th. The second-year used a 6-iron form 150 yards out on her second shot landing two feet from the pin. Spicer picked up her second later in the day on the par-3, 5th. The Springfield, Tenn. product just missed a hole-in-one as her tee shot from 140-yards out landed a foot from the flag.
Laura Bremer and Amelia Dap each scored for the Tigers. Bremer (89-90=179) averaged less than two putts per hole to post the final score for TSU in the morning, while Dap (95-87=182) registered in the afternoon. Dap scored the second of her two birdies of the day at the par-4, 11th. The Murfreesboro native hit a 3-wood off the tee to 168 yards out setting up her second shot. Dap carried the water with a 4-iron, landing six feet from pin to set up the birdie.
Playing as an individual, Imani Stingley finished with a 195 as she carded a 98 in the morning and closed out the day with a 97.
The final round is set for Tuesday with an 8:30am shotgun start.