At times on Saturday, there was awkward tension for Emma Talley with her boyfriend Patrick Smith, the caddie for Jennifer Kupcho. For the couple, competing in the same grouping with Talley as the 36-hole leader was unchartered territory.
Nonetheless, Talley maintained on moving day to shoot even par and share the 54-hole lead in the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf Management at -13 overall.
“It was weird,” Talley said with a wide smile. “I honestly didn’t like it. Now I know what to expect, so I feel a lot better about doing it. Today honestly threw me off and I was also very nervous. I haven’t been in this position in a long time. I didn’t play the way I wanted, but I’m still leading the thing.
“I realized that I just need to block him out of view. As soon as I did that on the back nine, I started to play much better. When you’ve dated someone for almost five years, you look over and you want to talk about what was going on. But, obviously, we’re kind of working.”
The third member of the grouping, Chella Choi, also chimed in on the situation.
“I told them when we started, ‘No date here. I miss my boyfriend, so no date,’” Choi said laughingly.
On Friday, Talley recorded two three-putts and proclaimed after the round that the second instance was enough to create an “angry Emma.” Today, a double bogey on the par-5 9th created the exact opposite reaction.
“I didn’t get mad on nine. It was almost like a relief once I hit the bad shot. I haven’t missed any shots this week and today I missed a lot, so I think that kind of relaxed me on nine,” said Talley. “Then once I got to No. 10, I was like, ‘No way, this can’t go on. I’m not just going to give it to the field.’ That is when I started playing really well. I made one more bad swing and a bogey, but other than that, I think today in general taught me a lot about myself.”
From the nerves she felt in the third round to the adjustments made, Talley is eager to continue learning and taking every moment as it comes with the capacity for growth.
“I’m really excited where my game is,” Talley said. “The last couple holes, I think I learned a lot about my swing when I’m nervous. I got a little long for 15 holes, and the last few holes I decided to shorten it up then started hitting it great. I’m really excited for tomorrow because I feel like I have a better idea of how I’m going to feel and what the emotions are going to be like out there
“I’m just trying to embrace everything I’m feeling and right now, anger -- I’ve learned how to embrace anger. I haven’t completely figured out how to embrace nerves, but got better as the day went on.”