Sunday, August 11, 2013

Emma Talley Wins the U.S. Women's Amateur

Many years ago, my brother and I convinced our mom to take to Paxton Park in Paducah so we could play golf.  I was about 15 at the time, and I still remember how fresh and green everything looked in the morning dew, and how the grass was thicker and richer than any we had ever seen.  I also remember the excitement of getting on the ladder of golf.  Yes, I was only a 15-year-old kid living in Paducah, but if I practiced enough and got good enough there was a whole world of golf out there.  I never really thought I would be that good at golf -- my only goal, never achieved, was to break 100 -- but even the chance of someday playing on famous courses cast a glow over my feeble efforts.

I fell off the ladder of golf almost as soon as I started.  But today, Emma Talley of Princeton went all the way to the top of the amateur golfing world.  She did this even though there are no golfers in her family, even though she never went to any special high school where her skills could be honed, and even though her family remains rooted in Princeton to this day.  And she did it all while being true to herself and serving as a spokesman for her home town and her university.  On the Golf Channel's coverage of the U.S. Women's Amateur this week -- which was excellent -- they tended to ask most of the golfers about their parents, or their game, or their future plans.  But almost every interview with Emma Talley ended up with questions about the University of Alabama and Princeton, Ky.  For a good example of the Southern-tinged coverage of Ms. Talley, see today's article at  And here's a very nice message from Farmers Bank & Trust Company in Princeton.

For at least 200 years, folks in other parts of the country have complained about life in the rural South -- often with good reason.  Places like Princeton are supposed to make you too narrow, or too provincial, or too close-minded to appreciate the bigger world.  But there are also big advantages to coming from a small Southern town.  You know who you are, and how you're supposed to live.  And you have millions of potential allies across the country.  For the last several days, almost everyone in the galleries have been rooting for Emma Talley -- SEC fans from across the South cheering for one of their own.  (In an interview with the Golf Channel, Ms. Talley said that she even met folks from Georgia who were doing the "Roll Tide" cheer.)  In a country as atomized and divided as this one, it's always good to know that you're not alone.

Of course, none of this would have done much good if Ms. Talley weren't an extraordinary talent.  Lots and lots of kids have gone to driving ranges across western Kentucky, but very few of them became world class -- and none of them ever won such a big tournament at such a young age.

Today's match was not one for the ages -- both Ms. Talley and her opponent, Yueer Cindy Feng of Orlando, Fla. struggled through the first 18 holes.  The match went back and forth, with the players mostly exchanging bogeys.  But then Ms. Talley birdied 17 and 18 to go from 1 down to 1 up at the halfway point.  In the second round, she birdied the 20th hole and took advantage of Ms. Feng's bogey on the 22d hole to go 3 up.  But Ms. Feng then won three holes in a row (with two birdies and a par), and they were all tied after 25 holes.  By this point both golfers were on their game, and the next two holes were halved.  Ms. Talley birdied the 28th hole to regain the lead, and then held on the rest of the way.  Ms. Feng bogeyed the 35th hole to fall two behind with only one to play, and this excruciatingly long tournament was finally over.

In the last 19 holes of the match, Ms. Talley made four birdies, 13 pars, and only two bogeys.  That is championship-quality golf, and she very much deserved her trophy.

Here at the Heath Post, we root for everyone from western Kentucky -- even folks like Kenny Perry who went to Lone Oak.  So we are pleased with today's outcome.  But we are even more pleased to have a winner who represents our beautiful, special part of the country so well.

Here is what Ms. Talley did this week:

1.  In two rounds of medal play, she shot 71+69=140.  That put her in a tie for 2d, and made her the number-three seed for purposes of match play.

2.  In the round of 64, she beat Lydia Choi of Beverly Hills, Calif. by a score of 3 & 1.

3.  In the round of 32, she beat Tatiana Wijaya of Indonesia by a score of 8 & 7.

4.  In the round of 16, she beat Maria Fassi of Mexico by a score of 2 up.

5.  In the quarter-finals, she beat Su-Hyun Oh of Australia in 19 holes.

6.  In the semi-finals, she beat Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif. by a score of 1 up.

7.  In the 36-hole final, she beat Yueer Cindy Feng of Orlando, Fla. by a score of 2 & 1.

We will give the last word to Ms. Talley.  Here was what she tweeted after today's match:

This is a dream come true!  I am so blessed!  Speechless!  Thank you to everyone!  Jeremiah 29:11