HARRIS, Michigan, June 25, 2017 – Emma Talley was sitting in the hallway at the Sweetgrass Golf Club chatting with friends, when all the sudden around the corner ran more friends screaming and dumping water on the unsuspecting Emma. While waiting to tee off the third round of the Island Resort Championship on Sunday, Talley discovered the final round would never be played due to course conditions and bad weather in the area. Just like that she was officially a Symetra Tour champion.
With nine groups, including Talley’s, still waiting to tee off play was suspended at 1:42 p.m. due to lightning in the area. With continued storms heading for the golf course and unplayable conditions, round three was officially called off making the results through round two official.
It wasn’t exactly a storybook ending with a trophy ceremony inside a banquet room instead of the 18th green, but Talley couldn’t contain her smiles – after all, she wasn’t even supposed to be here this week.
Talley’s mother has been battling health issues recently, including finding out she had cancer just a month ago. It was a Tuesday when Jennifer Talley, who is already a breast cancer survivor, discovered she had ovarian cancer and she underwent surgery on that Friday. Three weeks later (this past week) Jennifer got the news that she was again cancer-free. With a pre-scheduled hip operation this week for Jennifer, Emma was planning to stay at home in Princeton, Kentucky to keep her mom company, but Talley felt a draw to make the trip to Harris this week.
“I have been playing really well the last two weeks,” Talley said, “I told my mom ‘I really feel like I need to play this week.’”
Good choice. Minutes after Talley was doused with water, she FaceTimed her parents to tell them the news, to which they responded with loud hoots and hollers.
Her winning score of 9-under par (135) marks her season-best 36-hole score, her third-straight top-10 finish and her sixth top-10 finish of the season. “This is awesome,” Talley said beaming, “it’s definitely a dream come true. It feels like all the work has finally been clicking and I’m really excited for the win.”
With the $22,500 first-place check, she has moved all the way up to fourth in the Volvik Race to the Card with $43,618 in official earnings this season.
Talley played 10 holes on Sunday morning to finish out round two, and in that timespan she used three birdies to get to 3-under for the round. “I’m really happy with the two rounds we did get in, and if we did get to play that would have been great, but it’s alright,” Talley said with a laugh.
Talley, a 2016 University of Alabama graduate, is no stranger to titles. She was the 2013 U.S Women’s Amateur Champion and while playing for the Crimson Tide she was crowned the 2015 NCAA Golf Individual Champion. While a lot of players avoid looking at the on-course leaderboards, she has a different approach, “I like pressure, I like competition,” she said. “It’s always nice to see your name up there no matter if you’re in first or fifth, it’s always nice to see your name up on the leaderboard. It gives you something to shoot for.”
Runners-up Ruixin Liu and Benyapa Niphatsophon (-6, 138) never saw any action on Sunday as they both finished their second rounds on Saturday, finishing just three strokes shy of Talley. 2017 Symetra rookie Liu locked in a career-best finish and her third top-5 finish of the season. Aside from missing the cut at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women's Health Classic, Niphatsophon – who played on the LPGA in 2016 – has yet to finish outside the top-25 in nine starts this season.
With the Island Resort Championship marking the midway point in the 2017 Symetra season, Talley said this win gives her a boost to finish out the season strong. “I’ve been kind of struggling this year, and then finally started playing well a couple weeks ago, and now I finally got the win. I’m looking forward to seeing what the season holds.”
As for tonight’s celebration, Talley said she’s going to hang out with friends and maybe take a spin on the roulette wheel at the Island Resort and Casino.