Former Caldwell County star Emma Talley waited out a weather delay Monday before making the winning birdie putt on her final hole for the individual title at the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship in Bradenton, Fla.
Talley, a three-time KHSAA state champion who is now a junior at Alabama, shot a bogey-free 3-under par 69 to hold off late charges by Arkansas' Gaby Lopez and Duke's Leona Maguire. Both birdied their final hole, but it was too late to catch Talley.
"It was just an incredible week," Talley said. "I had been playing well up to this point, and everything kind of came together and clicked just at the right time. God's blessed me with so much, and I just took it and ran with it."
Talley finished at 3 under for the tournament and one shot clear of Lopez and Maguire. Lopez was 6 under in her final round, including an eagle at No. 3. Maguire also eagled the third hole, and was 4 under on the day.
On Talley's final hole of the day — the par-4 ninth — her tee shot found the fairway bunker. She hit a seven-iron from the sand from 148 yards out to within eight feet of the hole.
"It was as good (a shot) as I've seen," Alabama Coach Mic Potter said. "Uphill, and into the wind, and to be able to hit it that solid, it never left the flagstick. It was pretty impressive.
"I told her I'm really glad I didn't have to hit that shot."
Lining up her birdie putt, the horns sounded and play was suspended for 52 minutes for lightning in the area. After the delay, Talley sank the putt.
"I just knew everybody else was upset so I just tried to get off the green as quick as possible," she said. "I didn't want to hear a bunch of negativity. So I just wanted to keep a positive spirit. I knew I had to finish it."
Talley wouldn't let the delay get to her.
"I tried to keep my composure and I didn't watch the TV very often, tried not to watch that. I did find out what the scores are. I knew I had to make that putt."
And she did.
"I came back out (from the clubhouse), and all the nerves hit me again," said Talley, who also won the U.S. Women's Amateur in 2013. "It was really nerve-racking, but I think my past experiences really helped me be able to take care of that pressure."
On a course that averaged 77.82 strokes per round and penalized golfers with 685 double bogeys and higher, Talley did not have a score over bogey. She played the par-4s best in the field at 1 under.
"This golf course is so pure," Talley said of Concession Golf Club. "It's really difficult, but it tests you, and I love that. I love the challenge. I had boxes on the fairways and boxes on the greens, and I just put (my ball) in place, and tried to put it in position every time."