Golf

Former Caldwell County golf star Emma Talley in lead at women's NCAAs

Emma Talley watches her tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Emma Talley watches her tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) ASSOCIATED PRESS

Emma Talley, a three-time state champion for Caldwell County who is a junior at Alabama, had a one-shot lead at the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship when play was suspended by darkness on Sunday in Bradenton, Fla.

Playing conditions at Concession Golf Club have been difficult throughout the weekend, and Talley was at even par through three rounds.

"The course is really hard out there," Talley said in a report on the NCAA website. "The greens are firm and they're going to just continue to get firmer. ..."

Arizona State's Monica Vaughn was in second place at 1-over par. She was through 17 holes when play was stopped. Southern California's Annie Park was 2 over through 13 holes.

[NCAA women's golf leaderboard]

At on point, it looked like Talley might pull away from the field. Back-to-back birdies midway through her round had her at 3 under.

"I had two three-putts today," Talley said. "One, I three-putted for par so that was OK. ... I'm pleased with my 73 (on Sunday). It's just, I was 3 under at one point and got back to even par for the tournament, so that was kind of a bummer."

Talley has been at the top of the leaderboard throughout the tournament. She said she has learned a lot about the course during the weekend.

[Southern California pulls ahead in team standings]

"Every day I feel I know the hole better because I know the green better," she said. "I know where the slopes are a little better. I know the reads a little better. I pretty much know what I'm going to hit off the tee now. ... Everybody's getting used to how to play."

Experience and winning in big tournaments — such as the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur — have helped Talley, according to Alabama Coach Mic Potter.

"They're tournaments that require you make par and she knows how to do it," Potter said. "She has great control of her golf ball. She flights it well. She hits it straight. She's not afraid. Doesn't hit any shots out of fear.

"And then she's really worked hard on her putting the last few weeks and is holing out better from six feet, which has helped her a lot. And she's hit some pretty good little chips from around the green, too."

■ Kentucky freshman Isabelle Johansson shot a 9-over par 81 during her third round, and she was tied for 96th in the 132-player field at 25 over.

"It's been a disappointing week on the course for Bella ... but an unbelievable learning experience," Coach Golda Johansson Borst said. "She was striping it off the tee but struggled to find the greens. You really couldn't miss in the wrong place here, and unfortunately Bella found some of those places."

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