CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Tennessee State women’s golf team claimed its best team finish since the fall of 2011 as they completed play at the 21st Annual Saluki Invitational hosted by Southern Illinois. The Tigers placed eighth in the field of 11 as they shot (356-336) a 692 at the Par-72, 6,018-yard, Hickory Ridge Golf Course.
TSU cut 20 strokes off of its first round score to track down and surpass Central Michigan. The Chippewas held a 12-stroke lead over the Tigers after Sunday’s play. CMU finished the tournament in ninth place, five strokes behind TSU.
This marks the highest finish since the Screaming Eagle Golf Classic on Sept. 19-20, 2011. TSU placed 12th out of 18 teams.
The host Salukis grabbed the team title (325-311) with a 636 and were led by Mattie Lidner, who was top medalist, shooting a 6-over, 150.
Kelly Merkel and Sarah Needleman paced TSU as both finished tied for 13th with a 20-over, 164. The duo each knocked down 18 pars, while Needleman registered the third most birdies in the tournament.
Needleman (82-82=164) found most of her success on the eight par-3’s over both rounds. The junior played the holes at 1-over for the tournament, only second to Kristie Yang of Southern Illinois and Nebraska-Omaha’s Kathryn Kesti, who each shot 1-under. On day one, Needleman drained a 20-foot downhill putt to birdie the par-3, 17th.
Merkel (81-83=164) was consistent over the two rounds with nine fairways and nine greens on each day, while averaging 34.5 putts a round. On Sunday, Merkel birdied the par-4, 18th, finding the middle of the fairway, leaving 120 yards to the hole. The junior hit an 8-iron into the wind, landing 25 feet behind the hole, setting up the birdie putt.
Merkel played the par-3’s one stroke less than Needleman, at 2-over. The Columbia, Tenn. product completed the eight par-5’s at 4-over, the fourth best score on the longer holes.
Natalie Spicer (96-84=180) scored in both rounds for the Tigers and hit 11 fairways and five greens over the final 18-holes. The sophomore converted three up and downs to save par, including the par-4, 10th, as she sank a 30 foot putt. Spicer’s highlight of the day came on the par-4, 3rd, as she chipped in to save par.
Laura Bremer (99-87=186) cut 12 strokes off her first round score by hitting six fairways, three greens and 33 putts on Monday. The second round score helped the Tigers chase down Central Michigan.
Imani Stingley (97-91=188) hit seven even fairways, three greens, and 39 putts to card a team scoring round on Sunday.
The Tigers will be back in action on Friday, Apr. 3 as the take on Lipscomb in head-to-head competition.