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Tulsa's Kristina Merkle Leads PING/ASU Invitational Entering Final Round

Freshman Kristina Merkle has a two-stroke lead in a prestigious field at the PING/ASU Invitational.
Freshman Kristina Merkle has a two-stroke lead in a prestigious field at the PING/ASU Invitational.
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April 10, 2010

Tempe, Arizona - Tulsa freshman Kristina Merkle fired a three-under par 69 on Saturday and remained in first-place after two rounds at the prestigious PING/ASU Invitational, a tournament featuring 11 of the nation's top-25 teams. She has a 36-hole total of seven-under par 137 on the par-72 Karsten Golf Course.

Merkle, ranked 85th nationally in the Golfstat ratings, began the day tied for the individual lead with Arizona State's Carlota Ciganda, ranked 11th in the nation. Merkle began her round on hole 10 for the second straight day and proceeded to birdie five of her first eight holes.

The Hurricane newcomer from Honolulu, Hawaii, birdied the 11th, a par-4 330-yard hole, for the second consecutive day. She birdied the par-3 12th hole, then after a par putt on hole 13 sank birdie putts on the next two holes, No. 14 and 15. She birdied the par-5 17th hole and shot par on the 18th to end the first nine holes with a five-under par score of 32 for the day and 3-under par for the tournament.

The back nine, holes 1-9, posed some problems for Merkle, as she had back-to-back bogeys on the 1st and 2nd holes. She birdied the par-5 5th hole and bogeyed on the par-4 8th hole.

Merkle holds a two-stroke lead over the nation's second-ranked golfer, Jennifer Song of Southern Cal, and 6th-ranked Jennifer Johnson of Arizona State. Both Song and Johnson scored rounds of 70 on Saturday and are tied with a five-under par 139 total.

As a team, the Hurricane jumped four spots into 13th place in the 17-team field with a second round score of 293, 13 strokes better than an opening round 306 on Friday. Tulsa has a 599 total for the first two days. Host and defending national champion Arizona State continues to lead the field with an 11-under par 565, while Southern Cal is in second place, six strokes back with a 571 total.

For the Hurricane, sophomores Shu-Yin Liu and Sarah Elliot carded solid rounds on Saturday. Liu shot a one-over par 73, as she recovered from a four-over par front nine to shooting three-under par on her final nine holes, sinking birdie putts on holes 1, 3, 4 and 5. She was back to even on the day heading into her final hole, but bogeyed the par-4 ninth hole. Elliot was one stroke back with a 74 today with two birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey.



Elliot has a 152 total after 36 holes for 57th place, while Yin Liu is in 67th place with a score of 154.

Marita Engzelius is in 82nd place with a 160 total after an 81 today, while Abby Allford had a score of 77 today and sits in 88th place with a score of 165.

The final 18 holes will be played on Sunday.

Team Scores
1.	Arizona State	279-286=565
2.	Southern Cal	281-290=571
T3.	UCLA	        291-286=577
T3.	Denver	        291-286=577
5.	Arizona	        292-289=581
6.	Purdue	        287-295=582
7.	Oklahoma State	292-292=584
8.	New Mexico	291-294=585
9.	Alabama	        291-295=586
10.	Stanford	297-291=588
11.	Pepperdine	295-299=594
12.	Texas	        299-297=596
T13.	Tulsa	        306-293=599
T13.	California	296-303=599
15.	Washington	302-300=602
16.	San Jose State	301-306=607
17.	Washington St.  308-305=613

Tulsa Scores 1. Kristina Merkle 68-69=137 (-7) T57. Sarah Elliot 78-74=152 (+8) T67. Shu-Yin Liu 81-73=154 (+10) T82. Marita Engzelius79-81=160 (+82) 88. Abby Allford 88-77=165 (+21)

Top-5 Individuals 1. Kristina Merkle, Tulsa 68-69=137 (-7) T2. Jennifer Song, USC 69-70=139 (-5) T2. Jennifer Johnson, Arizona State 69-70=139 (-5) T4. Molly Aronsson, Washington 71-70=141 (-3) T4. Carlota Ciganda, Arizona State 68-73=141 (-3) T4. Kimberly Kim, Denver 72-69=141 (-3) T4. Stephanie Kono, UCLA 71-70=141 (-3) T4. Courtney McKim, Oklahoma St. 70-71=141 (-3) T4. Lizette Salas, USC 69-72=141 (-3)