BOWLING GREEN — Emma Talley enhanced her legacy as one of the most accomplished high school golfers in Kentucky history by winning her third girls' state title at Bowling Green Country Club on Saturday.
The Caldwell County senior shot 69-69—138 for a 10-shot victory over Lydia Gumm of North Hardin and Jackie VanMeter of South Warren.
Sacred Heart easily won its sixth team title, beating two-time defending champion Green County by 43 shots.
Talley closed out her career in style, rolling in long birdie putts on the last two holes.
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"It's kind of bittersweet," she said. "I really wanted this win, but now I'm not going to get to see my friends again."
Talley all but owned the Leachman/KHSAA State Tournament the last four years. In 2008 she shot a record 134 to win by nine shots, and won by that same margin last October.
Talley would have had a four-peat, except that after finishing first by six shots in 2009, she signed an incorrect scorecard, called the error on herself, and was disqualified.
Talley is the first three-time girls' state champion since Myra VanHoose (Blackwelder) of Lafayette won four in a row in the early 1970s.
Talley's reputation reaches beyond Kentucky's borders. The University of Alabama signee has a national name.
Last year she played on the USA's Junior Ryder Cup team in Scotland, and just a few weeks ago was on the USA's Junior Solheim Cup squad that played in Dublin, Ireland.
Talley has also won 10 American Junior Golf Association titles, including a record four in a row this summer.
Asked about being called one of the best golfers the state has produced, Talley said, "I've worked really hard since I was little bitty. I prayed about it, and God has really blessed me with a great career."
Playing a national (and occasionally world-wide) schedule, it would seem high school golf wouldn't generate much excitement or motivation for her.
Dan Talley, Emma's dad, said that can be a challenge, but that's never the case with the state tournament.
"Emma has the utmost respect for these girls she plays against. She knows Lydia (Gumm) can beat her any day of the week. She didn't have any trouble getting excited for this."
"I've wanted to win the region and state since I was a fifth-grader. And it's never hard getting up to play against Lydia, Megan (Wilshire) and Meghan (Theiss). They're all great players, so I was excited to pull this out this week."
For Gumm, it was another high finish in the state tournament. The North Hardin junior was also runner-up in 2006 and 2008. She was third last year and fourth in 2009.
Megan Wilshire of Scott County, who placed in the top three the previous three years, shot 76-77—153 to finish fifth.
Abbi Stamper of Franklin County was sixth at 76-78—154.
Henry Clay's team finished eighth. The Blue Devils were led by sophomore Alison Miller (88-90—178) and eighth-grader Leslie Ginter (89-89—178), followed by sophomore Meg Mills (90-89—179), eighth-grader Sara Bidarian (94-90—184) and junior Allison Leigeb (95-99—194).