There’s a kinship that goes back further than she realizes. Emma Talley, who shot 6-under par 67 at Galgorm Castle on Thursday in the opening round of the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Modest! Golf, loves her some Northern Ireland.
“I love playing over here in general,” Talley said. “I think it's really calming. The people are really -- it's a very simple way of living. The golf courses are awesome. Yeah, it can get windy and cold and rainy. We got some wind and rain today, but I love playing golf over here, always have. Hopefully it treats me well the next couple weeks.”
The hills of Kentucky are littered with remnants of the Irish migration to America, a time when migrants who weren’t welcome in the urban centers of their new homeland took mules and shovels and dug a living out of otherwise inhospitable and unfarmable land. Corn, which would grow on rocky ridgelines and in dark hollows, replaced potatoes as the staple for every Irish family’s meal and the life that many Irishmen left, carving minerals from the cliffs and caves of their island, carried over to the mines of the places like Pike and Harlan counties. And if you listen close enough, you can even hear the ancestral twang of the Emerald Isle in the accents coming out of today’s Kentuckians.
Talley grew up in Paducah, on the western edge of the state, closer to St. Louis than Frankfort. But the connection remains all the same. She befriended the septuagenarian she played with in the pro-am on Wednesday and plans to stay in touch with everyone she’s met on this, her second trip to Northern Ireland.
“His name was Owen,” she said of her pro-am partner. “And I think I might go play golf with him next week. I fell in love. Yeah, even the woman at my hotel, we've become buddies. She wanted to go to Nashville last September and wasn't able to. Everyone I guess here loves country music, so every time I tell someone I'm from Nashville (where Talley lives now) they just want to talk to me.
“I just love the people over here. I love the food. My hotel is awesome. It's so peaceful. Everything has been great so far.”
Including the golf. Talley will begin the second round one-shot off the early lead in this inaugural event.