Andrew Mishler

The transition from former Ball State golfer Eric Steger to sophomore Tyler Merkel as Ball State's number one golfer this year looked like it would be seamless at the start of the Fall season. 

With two rounds of play completed in the Cobra Puma Invitational in Fort Myers, Fla. , that transition has taken its biggest setback yet. 

Ball State ranks in third place with a even-par score of 576, scoring only behind Florida Gulf Coast (564) and Loyola Maryland (569) in the tournament. 

Junior Alex Stinson shot in two-under-par 142 to lead the Cardinals through two rounds. Coming in behind him were junior Tony Lazzara with a one-over 145, senior TJ Carpenter with a two-over 146, and junior Joe Gasser with a four-over 148. 

Merkel is tied for 49th in the competition and stands at the bottom of the Ball State lineup with a 10-over score of 154. Merkel turned in an uncharacteristic nine-over 81 in the first round, but rebounded well with a one-over 73 in the second. 

Stinson is in ninth place, while Lazarra is tied for 13th, Carpenter is in 19th, and Gasser is tied for 27th. 

Merkel is coming off one of his best tournaments of the Fall season with a fourth place finish in the Golfweek Conference Challenge last week, making his slow start in this tournament even more unexpected. 

The final 18 holes of the tournament are scheduled to be played today, starting in the early morning.