Bold fashion statement has Ball State seeing red

Ball State is trying to make a statement at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. The Cardinals did so with their dress Monday, sporting bright red pants and shorts that made them stick out from the rest of the field.

“They’re easily identifiable, which makes it easy for me as a coach,” Ball State head coach Mike Fleck said. Fleck debuted red shorts when Tyler Merkel, then a sophomore, qualified for last year’s NCAA Ann Arbor Regional. Fleck added them to the team’s wardrobe for this season.

“I don’t think they were fully in favor of them until they wore them,” Fleck said.

Ball State also is in good shape to earn attention for its play at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. The Cardinals are in fourth place after two rounds at 5-over 581, nine shots behind leader Missouri. Ball State, which was in second place after a first-round 289, is six shots back of Wake Forest, giving the Cardinals an opportunity to upset one of college golf’s powerhouses for a second consecutive year.

Ball State finished seventh at last year’s Conference Challenge, six shots ahead of Georgia Tech.

“It’s fun to be a darkhorse,” said Merkel, who’s in sixth place individually after shooting 72-70 after finishing fourth at last year’s Golfweek Conference Challenge. Merkel, who wore red pants Monday, has his own unique piece of clothing: a bucket hat. It started his sophomore year of high school, when he won the first tournament he played while wearing that style of headwear. It’s been on his head ever since.

“Coach tells us we’re the best-dressed team in America,” Merkel said. Depending on your taste, the Cardinals may have proved it Monday.

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