Friday, August 9, 2013

Emma Talley Moves Into the Final Four

In an absolutely thrilling match, Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky. defeated the number 2-ranked women's amateur in the world, Su-Hyun Oh of Australia, in 19 holes to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur at the Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C.

The match teed off at 2:15 P.M. Eastern Time under sunny skies, with a temperature in the mid-80's and humidity in the high 60's.  Welcome to the South in August.  Ms. Talley took the lead by birdieing the first hole, gave it right back with a bogey on the 2d hole, and then took the lead again with a birdie on the 3d hole.  It was that kind of match.

Ms. Oh responded with a birdie on the 4th hole to even things, but then Ms. Talley birdied the 5th hole to regain the lead.  Both players bogeyed the 6th hole, and then parred holes 7-9.  So at the turn, Ms. Talley led by 1 hole.

After back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11, Ms. Talley trailed for the first time in match play at this tournament.  She was down one hole with seven holes left.  After both players parred the 12th and 13th holes, Ms. Talley was down one hole with five holes left.  By this time, this match had become the focus of the afternoon, both at the course and on the Golf Channel, as the other three matches (none of which were very close) were basically wrapped up.  Finally, on the 14th hole, Ms. Oh made a bogey, the match was all square with four holes left.

Each of those holes was a doozy:

On 15, a par 5, both players had birdie putts that were about 10 feet long, and they both missed.  Still all square.

On 16, a long par 4, Ms. Talley put her approach in the middle of the green, about 35 feet from the pin.  Ms. Oh then hit a brilliant shot to within about 10 feet.  Ms. Talley's long putt had to go over a ridge, and the folks on the Golf Channel thought it was almost impossible to read properly.  But after lining it up for a long time, Ms. Talley stroked the putt up over the ridge, down the other side, and straight into the cup for a birdie.  That put the pressure on Ms. Oh, but she holed her birdie putt as well.  Still all square.

On 17, a difficult par 3, Ms. Talley came up well short, just barely reaching the front of the green.  She then ran her approach putt about six feet past the hole.  Ms. Oh got a pretty straightforward par, so Ms. Talley had to make that six-footer to halve the hole.  She made it.  Still all square.

On 18, a long par 4, both players put their drives to within a few feet of each other, and then both hit approach shots that left them with long, tricky putts.  Ms. Oh went first and was brilliant, her ball stopping only about six inches from the pin.  That left Ms. Talley with a chance to win the match -- but she left her long putt about four feet short.  On the Golf Channel, they told us that according to the Alabama coach, Ms. Talley had been having big problems with putts of precisely this length toward the end of the NCAA season, and that her coach had told her to practice these putts every day.  The practice must have paid off, as she rolled in the putt to stay alive.  Still all square, and now going to extra holes.

So the 19-year-old Ms. Talley and the 16-year-old Ms. Oh went back to the 402-yard 10th hole.  On the Golf Channel, they mentioned that the two golfers had shaken hands to wish each other luck.  Ms. Talley went first and whacked her drive down the middle, but Ms. Oh's drive went about 25 yards farther.  Ms. Talley's approach shot looked as though it was running through the green -- but then it stopped, and rolled back to within about 15 feet.  Over to Ms. Oh, who left her approach shot about 30 feet short.  Ms. Oh putted first, and left her birdie attempt three-four feet short.  Ms. Talley now had another chance to win, but her putt was not on line, and stopped about a foot away.  Her par was conceded, and now Ms. Oh had to do what Ms. Talley had done on holes 17 and 18 -- make a short putt to extend the match.  She couldn't do it, her par effort spinning out and away from the hole.  Soon afterward, Twitter was full of messages from Western Kentucky and Alabama to @talley_emma.

So tomorrow morning, at 9:15 A.M. Central Time, Ms. Talley will take on Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif.  Ms. Lee was the runner-up in the 2012 U.S. Girls' Junior championship, and she is headed to UCLA this fall.  She is a formidable talent -- the number one ranked high-school women's golfer in the country, according to Golfweek.  Today she played Katelyn Sepmoree, who used to play for the University of Texas, and cruised to an easy 4 & 3 victory.  It should be quite a battle.

Here were the results from the other two quarter-finals:

Doris Chen of Taiwan defeated Lauren Diaz-Yi of Thousand Oaks, Calif. by 4 & 3.
Yueer Cindy Feng of Orlando, Fla. defeated Annie Park of Levittown, N.Y. by 6 & 4.


  1. Here was Emma Talley's tweet after today's match:

    "Wow what a day!! Had a lot of fun!!! Pray for me my friends!! Get to play with an awesome girl, friend, and golfer tomorrow @Allisonn_Lee!"

  2. Here's a profile of Emma Talley from GolfWeek's Julie Williams:

    Emma Talley

    School: Alabama (sophomore)

    Road to semifinals: Lydia Choi, Tatiana Wijaya, Maria Fassi, Su-Hyun Oh

    About: Talley had a pro-Tide crowd, and a loud one, in her corner Friday as she trudged through her toughest match of the week against Oh, the No. 2 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Talley never was able to get more than 1 up on Oh, but Oh never got more than 1 up on Talley either. Talley won on the 19th hole as fans and camera crews crowded the fairway.

    “This is what you dream for,” Talley said in her thick Kentucky accent. “This kind of atmosphere.”

    Talley was a second-team Golfweek All-American as a freshman, and owns the biggest margin of victory from this week. She defeated Wijaya, 8 and 7, in the second round of match play.

    Talley, a lighthearted player, likes her mental state this week. She arrived in Charleston feeling adequately prepared for this championship, and has been able to stay relaxed on the course. If she’s tempted to get riled up, she and dad/caddie Dan sing a few lines of “Cruise,” a popular song by Florida Georgia Line.

    This is her ninth USGA championship, and her second U.S. Women’s Amateur.

    “The U.S. Opens were a big experience,” she said. “I got to learn from the best out there.”