Emma Talley has never been to Puerto Rico and probably couldn’t name any of winners in 10 years of the Puerto Rico Open. But she’s aware of the plight of Puerto Ricans still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, and the LPGA Tour rookie jumped at the chance to help.
Talley, who starred in high school at Caldwell County and in college at Alabama, is among 19 players from the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour who are taking part in the Puerto Rico Open Charity Pro-Am this weekend that aims to raise $500,000 to help with recovery efforts.
The Puerto Rico Open, scheduled for this week, cannot be played as the island works toward recovery.
“Our hope is that this special event in 2018 will benefit Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts to the fullest extent, while reminding the world that Puerto Rico is a premier golf and travel destination,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Among the PGA Tour players taking part are defending champion D.A. Points and two other past champions, George McNeill and Derek Lamely. Talley, a former U.S. Women’s Amateur and NCAA champion at Alabama, is among 10 women playing Saturday, impressive in that the LPGA does not have a direct connection with Puerto Rico.
There also will be a celebrity pro-am Friday that includes baseball players Carlos Beltran, Pudge Rodriguez and Carlos Delgado, boxer Miguel Cotto and former NBA player Nick Van Exel.
“It’s almost like mission work,” Talley said. “It’s a great opportunity. So many people are hurting. It’s going to be a very humbling experience, and I hope we can raise a lot of money. I get to do a lot of charity events, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had a chance to do one with this much pain. I’ve done things for charities around town, but not where a country has been destroyed, or this caliber of disaster.”
The Puerto Rico Open is expected to return to the PGA Tour schedule in 2019 and 2020.