Carmel, Ind. - This morning at the Indiana Amateur Championship at Prairie View Golf Club, Sean Rowen stepped up to the first tee confidently, with a one-shot lead over Joe Gasser and a two-shot lead over Todd Palmer. With a bogey on one, the day immediately took a turn for Rowen. Instead, the group to follow proved to be that of Scott Pieri and Tyler Merkel.
As the day progressed, Pieri seemed like the steady frontrunner, and by hole 12 was three-under par. But on hole 13, Pieri incurred a two shot penalty for giving a spectator, a former Ball State teammate of his, a ride in his golf cart.
The Indiana Golf Association has a rule prohibiting anyone but tournament competitors to be in motorized golf carts.
“That rule has been in place for several years,” said IGA Executive Director, Mike David. “It’s unfortunate that Scott was not aware of the rule. The rule is designed to make the experience of playing in our events more enjoyable. Scott certainly didn’t gain any advantage by giving someone a ride, but a rule is a rule. Hopefully it won’t affect the outcome of the event,” he added.
Pieri has not played in many large IGA events, but still he said, “It’s up to me to know the rules and was 100 percent my fault. At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal, but it is a rule.”
Despite Pieri’s penalty, he still remained in the lead at one-under par through 13 holes, and maintained that score for the remainder of his round.
“I played a solid round of golf,” said Pieri. I drove the ball in play and I putted nicely. I hope to go out and do the same thing tomorrow.”
Coming on strong simultaneously was Tyler Merkel, who currently plays for Ball State. Merkel was even through 16 holes and his birdie on 17 gave him a share of the lead.
"I haven’t really thought about the possibility of winning yet," said Merkel. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but it would be big. Great players have won this tournament in the past.”
Merkel and Pieri will play in the same group again tomorrow, along with David Mills, a player from Indiana University, who is three shots back.