Emma Talley benefits from refreshed mind in form of 1st pro victory

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Emma Talley benefits from refreshed mind in form of 1st pro victory

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Emma Talley benefits from refreshed mind in form of 1st pro victory

Emma Talley relishes a good challenge. When the forecast looked grim at the Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship, Talley told her caddie that she wanted it to pour. In the eight holes that Talley played through the worst rain of her career, she notched three birdies. That stretch proved key as the former Alabama star claimed her first professional victory on Sunday after the event was shortened to 36 holes.

“I felt like everybody else was scared about the rain,” said Talley, who won the 2015 NCAA Championship at demanding Concession Golf Club. Once again, Talley’s attitude set her apart from the field.

That’s significant considering that only four weeks ago Talley reached out to a sports psychologist for the first time in her career.

Having struggled with anxiety on the golf course for several months, the former U.S. Women’s Amateur champion placed a phone call to Russ Cochran. The pair first met back in Kentucky in Talley’s high school gymnasium, where Cochran was watching his son play basketball. Cochran, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour Champions, told Talley that while he hadn’t been to a sports psychologist, he could see now that it might have benefited him early on in his career.

Talley also called fellow Alabama pro and Kentuckian Justin Thomas, who told her of his recent work with Bob Rotella.

Then while having dinner in Birmingham with Cochran during a PGA Tour Champions event last month, Fred Funk stopped by the table to chat. Talley filled him in on her struggles.

“How long has this been going on?” Funk asked.

Most of the season, Talley replied.

“Ah, you’re fine,” Funk said. “Wait til it’s years.”

Talley laughed, feeling immediate relief that she wasn’t alone.

She eventually gave her dad permission to reach out to an acquaintance of his, sports psychologist Stan Beecham, and Talley began the process of prioritizing golf.

“He kind of tore me down and built me up,” said Talley, who now ranks fourth on the Symetra Tour’s money list. “I just had to realize that it’s just golf. Even though it’s important in my life, it’s not who I am. It’s not everything to me.”

The results of Talley past three starts speaks to Beecham’s effectiveness: eighth, T-5 and then Sunday’s victory.

Actually, Talley almost didn’t even make the trip to Harris, Mich. Her mother, Jennifer, was scheduled to have a hip replacement last week, and Talley had planned to be back home in Kentucky. But with everything clicking so well, Talley told mom she might need to keep playing.

“I’m a pro,” said Jennifer, who has had so many hip surgeries over the years Emma has lost count. “Don’t worry about me.”

The big scare actually came last spring. While having one hip looked at for replacement surgery, Jennifer’s doctor decided on a whim to give the other hip a look and discovered a tumor.

Jennifer, a cancer survivor, had surgery to remove ovarian cancer at the end of March. By late April the family received news that she was cancer-free.

The doctor’s last-minute X-Ray saved Jennifer’s life.

“We were super-blessed,” said Talley as she made her way south along Lake Michigan to Tullymore Golf Resort, the tour’s next stop.

The ride now suddenly a whole lot smoother.

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