Even though Charles Dickens wasn’t a golfer, his words rang true on Thursday. It was, indeed, the best of times and the worst of times in “A Tale of Emma Talley.” During the first round of the CP Women’s Open, the 28-year-old Kentuckian got off to the kind of lackluster start on which mediocre weeks are built – 11 straight pars, including three on Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club’s four par fives. Then, as Dickens would say, the winter of despair released its grip on the spring of hope as Emma shed the epoch of incredulity to go on the run of the day.
“It was a crazy day,” Tally said after posting a 6-under par 65 to take an early lead in the first round. “My front nine was really boring. I didn't actually hit the ball that great, but I turned it around. On No. 12 I looked at my caddie and I was like, ‘I know exactly what I'm doing wrong. I'm just going to start hitting it better.’
“That's all I said, and then made a birdie. The next hole I made a hole-in-one and almost made a birdie on the next. It was like a completely different golf for the last seven holes than the first half of the day.”
Talley’s last seven holes read more like a phone number than a scorecard: 314-2424. The ace was “perfect shot” with “an easy 6-iron” from 172 yards on the 13th, Talley said. a shot that led Talley to break out in a little dance afterward.
“It was so cool,” Talley said. “I'm getting chills as we speak, because Elizabeth (Szokol) hit first, and I'm pretty sure hers lipped out. Then I hit mine in the hole, and the next girl hit it decent, like she was like 20 feet. The other two girls made their putts (for birdie) and I made a hole-in-one.
“Of course the Canadians are so nice here, as soon as I made the hole-in-one they just erupted. It was so cool. I haven't had a hole-in-one on the LPGA yet, so that was my first one.
Perfect is not a word Talley has uttered often this year. It’s been a summer of discontent for the former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion. The only cut she has made since the second week in June was at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational where she had a partner, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, and finished T32. Other than that, Thursday represented only the second time Talley has posted a round in the sixties since the Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, way back on June 10.
Most of that is due to her ball striking, which hasn’t been great. Talley entered the week ranked 86th on tour in greens-in-regulation and 45th in hitting fairways. You can get away with finding the rough if you’re long enough to have wedges in your hand. But Talley ranks 130th in driving distance. When you’re not that long, you better be straight. And that has been her weakness this year.
Her only top-10 finish this year was in the Bank of Hope Match Play where she finished T9. Other than that, Talley the season has been a struggle.
But a new voice and fresh face might bring a new perspective to her game. Talley hired veteran caddie Audrey Gerdes this week and so far, neither can complain about the results.
“This is her 31st year. She might kill me for saying that, but it's her 31st year on tour,” Talley said. “She's amazing. Our personalities mix so well, and I honestly just had so much fun today. I think that's why I was able to turn it around, was because of her. She was so great out there.
“I've been working hard on my game but that's not the whole picture. Having someone by your side that you trust and can give you good vibes is huge. She really did that for me today.”
Talley hopes the good vibes continue. “It was definitely a crazy day,” she said. “But, turned it around and kept it going.”
To quote Dickens once more, sometimes it only takes one swing for a season of darkness to become a season of light. Here’s to “A Tale of Emma Talley” hopefully ending on a high note.