College Sports

College golf | Emma Talley wins Alabama's first women's individual title

EAST MANATEE -- For her considerable golf talent, which included winning the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur, Alabama junior Emma Talley was never taught how to hit a fairway bunker shot.

So shortly before the start of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships at The Concession Golf Club, Talley received a tip from Crimson Tide head coach Mic Potter.

Talley's newfound knowledge came in handy in Monday's final round of stroke play when she knocked two fairway bunker shots to within makeable putting range.

The latter, a 7-iron from 148 yards on her 18th hole -- the 386-yard par-4 9th -- left her a 5-footer for birdie.

A teammate predicted Talley would make it, saying "because she's so clutch," just before she rolled it in for a 3-under-par 69 and what was then a two-stroke lead on the field.

With it, Talley became Alabama's first women's golfer to claim an individual national championship with a 3-under-par 285 total.

"I know how my parents feel now," said Talley, who had to wait to see if she could be caught down the stretch by her closest competitors. "That was so hard. I was sick. I really was."

Duke's Leona Maguire and Arkansas' Gaby Lopez tied for second place with 286s. Lopez had the tournament-low round Monday with a 66. Maguire carded

a 68 and was named the recipient of the ANNIKA Award, which goes to the top collegiate women's golfer of the year.

"That's another level," said Maguire about the award named after women's golfing legend Annika Sorenstam. " It's an incredible honor to have my name on a trophy that has her name on, too."

A lightning delay occurred for the fourth consecutive day, and it came just as Talley went to mark her ball on the ninth green.

"I told Mic, 'It's funny how you can walk off and get relaxed again, then you walk right back out there and the nerves just pop right back up,'" Talley said. "We do a drill every day. ... You have to make six 5-footers in a row. So that was a 5-footer, so I just tried to make it."

Despite the lightning delay, Monday's action was completed as scheduled for the first time since the event started last Friday.

That meant the top eight teams were decided for the match-play portion to determine a national champion.

The quarterfinals and semifinals are slated for Tuesday, with the final scheduled for Wednesday. The University of Washington qualified as the eighth team by three shots over Arkansas.

USC snagged the No. 1 seed for match play after posting a 40-over-par 1,192 total for 72 holes. Three Trojans -- Gabriella Then (10th), Annie Park (14th) and Karen Chung (21st) -- finished in the top 25 in the stroke play format.

The key for USC has been its adjustment to the Florida humidity.

"With the draw we got this week, we had the longest days the last couple days," USC head coach Andrea Gaston said. "... It was grueling. I think this is what you prepare for all year. You hope they are in good enough shape to handle it. ... They knew what their mission was, and I'm really proud of the way they handled it."

USC faces Washington; Duke meets Texas Tech; third-seeded Baylor plays Tennessee; and Stanford tangles with Arizona in Tuesday's quarterfinal action. The winners will square off in semifinal play Tuesday afternoon.

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