I had a blast this past week in Arizona for the Thunderbird International Junior at Grayhawk Golf Club. I met so many people, played so much pingpong and got to play in the hot desert, which was very pretty.
We arrived in Arizona on Wednesday night, and the first thing I noticed was that there was no grass … anywhere! On Thursday night, the AJGA had a welcome reception with fantastic food, and it was so much fun. I couldn’t resist the pool, so I jumped in with my clothes on. Friday was the practice round and then a welcome dinner. When we arrived at the golf course, I finally saw grass and got some cool gifts from Callaway at registration. Then I got to have my practice round so I could find out what clubs and strategies I was going to use during the tournament. I got to play with Drew Czuchry from Georgia, Jessica Korda from Florida and Doris Chen also from Florida. We had a blast together and learned a lot about the golf course. When I reached the 18th green, I saw two pingpong tables under the Fairway House that immediately caught my eye. I am so competitive and love ping-pong…I played for a few hours every single day!
Emma Talley, 16, will file a diary each week this summer as she plays some of the premier junior events in the country.
Talley is a two-time Rolex Junior All-American and has four AJGA victories. In addition to her three wins in 2009, she posted a pair of runner-up finishes and advanced to the quarterfinals at the Polo Golf Junior Classic. She first broke 70 at the age of 11.
On Saturday I had the opportunity to play with Tiffany Lim from California and Christina Mew from Australia. I loved listening to her Australian accent, and I’m sure she loved my Kentucky accent too. Even though I didn’t play well the first day, shooting a 78, I had a lot of fun with the girls I played with. Saturday was one of those days where you play well but you have a few bad holes and bad luck…it happens to all of us every now and then. On one hole, my second shot hit a rake that was beside a bunker and flew 30 yards into a bush in the desert. Trust me – that was not the place you wanted to be at in 3 on a par 5. Just like all golfers know, I still had plenty of time to fix it.
Sunday, the second round of tournament golf, was a little better but not quite what I was hoping for. I shot 33 on the front nine and a stupid 40 on the back. I went from tied for 24th the first day to 21st with one round to go. Monday was the last day of the tournament, and my game this week was different than any I have ever played because I usually putt very well, but I just couldn’t get anything to fall. I hit 17 out of 18 greens and I was close on 15 of the holes (18 feet or closer) and I hit 12 out of 14 fairways. The bad part of all this was that I had 36 putts! Every putt seemed like it was just going over the edge or lipping out. Even though my putting was extremely annoying, I had a lot of fun and ended up tied for 15th.
Now for the rest of my stories about the social events and all the people I met. I met two people from England who were really cool and had wonderful accents, two people from Australia (including the girl I played with), two people from Mexico, a guy from Chile, and a girl from Japan. Sometimes these people couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t them, but it was interesting and fun to listen and talk to them. One night the AJGA had a cookout for just the players. Wyndham Clark from Colorado and I each won a gift card from Callaway, but trust me, all the credit goes to him The team closest to the pin won, and Wyndham hit the 106-yard wedge shot to about a foot, so I must thank him for the help.
I was also a little crazy at all the social events, such as the dance off I had with an AJGA tournament director – let’s just say I worked it and won it. All the games, ping-pong games, and people this weekend were so much fun and I can’t wait till next week when I go to Illinois for the AJGA Junior at Quad Cities. Everyone wish me luck and have a wonderful week!
Arizona: Good day mate! And to my friends in Illinois: Cuidado, aquí vengo!