It’s just a fact. Emma Talley leads the field, male or female, after two rounds in Northern Ireland for the inaugural ISPS Handa World Invitational at 13-under overall. With nine birdies on Friday, the University of Alabama alumna scorched Massereene Golf Club en route to a 7-under 65 and three-stroke lead over Chella Choi and Jennifer Kupcho.
With all the circles on her scorecard, a three-putt bogey on No. 2 lit the fire for Talley’s strong finish to an impressive day.
“I started on No. 10 and kind of got mad on No. 2, which was my 11th hole. I had two three-putts today, and my second instance came at hole 2. I looked at my caddie after the round and said, ‘Maybe I should get mad more often,’ because after that I started playing really well,” said Talley, who recorded four straight birdies from Nos. 4-7. “An angry Emma. You don’t see it often, but I was mad.”
This is the first time in her four-year career that Talley has held a 36-hole advantage. Her previous best position was outright second at the 2018 ISPS Handa Australian Open, where she ultimately finished in a tie for seventh.
Talley will be joined in Saturday’s final grouping by Choi and Kupcho, as well as a familiar face on the bag for the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion.
“It has been a long time since I’ve been in this position,” Talley said. “I think with my sports psychologist and mental coach Paul Dewland, and where my game is, I’m really excited for the weekend.
“Paired with my boyfriend and his player [Kupcho], that has only happened a couple times. I always play well when Patrick [Smith] is around. Even though he may be trying to beat me the next few days, it will be nice to at least be paired together. I’m really just trying to focus on the process. I know that’s kind of standard response, and I hate when I hear athletes say that, but it is the case of what I’m trying to do. My mission is to go out and play the best golf I can and hopefully win this thing.”
In a share for second at -10 overall, it’s the best spot Choi has been in after 36 holes since 2013. A LPGA champion at the 2015 Marathon Classic presented by Dana, she has hit 30 greens in regulation through two rounds.
“This is a very good position right now and I know the [Galgorm] course,” said Choi. “I really am enjoying being here for the first time, and the weather is pretty good. Golf course good, greens rolling well and people came out, so I’m very excited to play.
“My win was seven years ago, but I know how to win. I’m trying to make as much confidence in myself.”
In the men’s draw, New Zealand native Daniel Hillier paces the field by one at -11 overall following an 8-under 62 in the second round at Galgorm. A total of 64 women and 68 men made the cut of even par in each of the respective tournaments. A second cut will be made tomorrow after the third round to the top-35 players plus ties for both men and women. Rounds three and four will be conducted at Galgorm.
MICHELE THOMSON RECORDS ACE IN SECOND ROUND OF ISPS HANDA WORLD INVITATIONAL
The second round of the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management saw an ace from Ladies European Tour member Michele Thomson on the par-3 14th at Massereene Golf Club. A native of Aberdeen, Scotland, Thomson found the bottom of the cup with a 6-iron from 155 yards.
For the hole-in-one, CME Group will donate $20,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The 2021 season has 12 aces for a total of $240,000 donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.