In this age of immediacy, Emma Talley is in no rush to turn professional.
The amateur from Princeton, Ky., has already claimed a U.S. Women’s Amateur (2013), clinched the deciding point for a USA Curtis Cup Team (2014) and won an NCAA Women’s individual title in May for the University of Alabama. That combination of feats constitutes an amateur triple crown of sorts.
The next logical step would appear to be turning professional soon after this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club, but that’s not in Talley’s immediate plans.
“I'm 21 years old,” said Talley, a rising senior majoring in communications. “I love school. I love Alabama. My roommates are great. I have always wanted to get a degree. This is just another one of my goals in playing. What's six months, you know? My parents always said you are only going to be 21 and in college once. It's not important to everybody, but it is important to me.”
Talley is scheduled to play in next week’s LPGA Marathon Classic on a sponsor’s exemption and will attend stage 1 of the LPGA Tour’s Qualifying Tournament Aug. 3-9 in Rancho Mirage, Calif., with the hopes of advancing to later stages and gaining amateur member status on the developmental Symetra Tour.
This week marks Talley’s fourth U.S. Women’s Open start and third consecutive in which she has made the 36-hole cut. Saturday’s 4-over 74 positions her at 6-over 216, and regardless of Sunday’s outcome, she has already achieved her biggest accomplishment of the summer.
"I laugh because everybody has been asking me what has been my favorite success this summer and I tell them the A or A-plus I got in Western Civ in June,” Talley said.
Women’s Open Takes On Spirit of Lancaster
Championship director Barry Deach realized that this U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club was coming to a unique community when 250 local residents showed up to learn about the championship at a meeting last November.
And when 2,300 volunteers signed up within a five-week period last July – along with a waiting list of 800 – Deach knew the community was ready to show off this historic Pennsylvania region to the world.
“What I experienced from the first moment I came here was a deep sense of place,” said Deach, a native of Minnesota.
And that pride had much to do with the town’s history and traditions. To better understand that, Deach spent time learning what was important to its residents.
As he looked around, he saw the old Pennsylvania Dutch “hex” signs on the barns and the sprawling farms of the local Amish people. He once saw a bagpiper on the front steps of a local Presbyterian church, and American flags were omnipresent.
At Lancaster Country Club, he discovered an old homestead on land that was once rolling Pennsylvania farmland before it became a golf course. The site was deeded in 1761.
The effort to establish a sense of place led to this historic site located near holes 12 and 13 becoming “The 1761 Club” – the championship’s upgraded VIP ticket-holder area. And the ubiquitous hex signs became part of the U.S. Women’s Open logo.
When it came time to start building championship infrastructure, 65 percent of all vendor coordination came from the local community. Three generations of Amish workers from Mill Creek Fence, for example, constructed all of the white three-rail fences on the property.
At most other golf events, large tents are used for corporate hospitality, but here, Amish families constructed an enclave of “cottages” down the left side of No. 10 fairway.
“I could have easily said, ‘No, we use tents,’ but it’s all about sense of place,” said Deach. “It’s about taking what’s best about a place, and in the background is this national championship that will shine no matter what.”
Local participation in the event has been demonstrated at every level. Franklin & Marshall College in downtown Lancaster hosted volunteer orientation, and championship committees have included representatives from the mayor’s office as well as the local tourism board.
Another touch of Lancaster can be found in concession areas, where locally based company “Auntie Anne’s” sells pretzels, alongside locally produced whoopee pies. Even the concession workers are from Lancaster charitable organizations.
In addition, all produce used at the Open, ranging from bananas for the players to lettuce in the dining areas, comes from Kegel’s Produce, a local company.
“A lot of people have made this a record-setting championship,” added Deach. “They might not completely understand the significance of the United States Golf Association, but they understand community, and this community has truly opened its doors.”
Lancaster Golf Shop Assistant Gets Late Call
Allison Weaver got a chance to play the weekend of a U.S. Women’s Open.
With an odd number of golfers (63) qualifying for the final 36 holes, Haruka Morita-Wanyaolu, a professional from the People’s Republic of China who was scheduled for Saturday’s first starting time, had the option of playing alone or having a non-competitive marker assigned by the USGA.
Morita-Wanyaolu decided to have a companion, so Weaver, an assistant in Lancaster Country Club’s golf shop, became the designated marker. The 24-year-old amateur from nearby Lititz, Pa., had played the William Flynn design hundreds of times, but never with 20,000 spectators lining the course. She had failed to qualify for the championship at a sectional June 1 in Galloway Township, N.J.
“It was definitely an adrenaline rush the whole time,” said Weaver, who found out she was playing at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday. “I don’t think my nerves stopped. I hit the ball well. I just got into the rough a couple of times. The rough is treacherous out there.”
Weaver, with six-year Lancaster caddie Sean Hennessy on her bag, received plenty of support throughout the round. Lots of “Go Allie” chants went up as she toured the layout.
“I saw a lot of members today,” said Weaver, whose grandfather, Jim Weaver, pitched for the California Angels in 1967-68 and was 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA. “It was really cool to see the members out here. It just shows how much interest they have in me playing.”
Weaver carded a 12-over 82, seven strokes higher than Morita-Wanyaolu’s official round. Weaver and her playing partner finished in just under four hours.
Although Weaver competed in last year’s Women’s Western Amateur at Lancaster, the course was not set up anywhere near as difficult.
“I played a lot of different tees that I had not been on,” said Weaver. “That makes for a long golf course.”
A 2013 graduate of Murray State in Kentucky, Weaver has spent the past two summers working at area golf clubs in preparation for a professional career. She will attempt to qualify for next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Portland (Ore.) Golf Club at a sectional July 20 in Mendham, N.J. Then it will be off to LPGA Tour Qualifying School in late August.
Getting to experience the Women’s Open from inside the ropes was a career highlight, and she hopes to get another chance on Sunday morning.
“I’m not sure,” said Weaver when asked about whether she might get to play with Elizabeth Nagel, who is first off the tee at 8:24. “I’ve got to go through the boss first.”
What’s in a Name?
Q Baek did not need an interpreter to understand the question. Since turning professional three years ago, she is used to it being part of the interview process.
“Why did you change your name to Q?” she is routinely asked, to which she nods her head in the affirmative.
The 19-year-old from the Republic of Korea was born Baek Kyu-jung, but the rise of her golf game got a friend of hers to thinking.
“One of my best friends from China gave me the name,” she said through her interpreter, David Kim. “My real name is Kyu-jung, but it’s a little bit hard for foreign people to pronounce. But it also has really good meanings in Chinese."
Kyu is pronounced as “Q” in English, so to avoid any possible confusion, Baek changed to the single-letter name about three years ago. She noted that “Q” in some Chinese dialects means cute or pretty.
Her name will become more recognizable stateside if she continues to play like she has in this championship. She has shot 70-71-71 and is tied for 28th place entering the final round.
“This is the No. 1 tournament in the world,” she said through Kim. “I felt a little pressure before because it’s much different than a regular LPGA, but I tried to really prepare myself for this week.”
Last year on the Korean LPGA Tour, Baek won four times, including a playoff victory over Brittany Lincicome and In Gee Chin in the co-sanctioned LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship. The win earned Baek, No. 25 in the Rolex Rankings, LPGA playing privileges for 2015 and accelerated her personal timeline for attempting to join the LPGA.
While Baek may not speak fluent English, she is aware of the universal appeal of James Bond movies, where one of the characters who produces weapons for 007 goes by the name of Q. This Q produces golf shots instead of spy gadgets.
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites. Lisa D. Mickey and David Shefter contributed.