Emma Talley went to Subway every day in 2013 when she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Country Club of Charleston. The Subway manager even came out to watch her play. She took a picture with the staff.
Talley plans to go back there – turkey sub, no cheese – when the U.S. Women’s Open is held starting Thursday through Sunday in Charleston. She’ll probably roll down the windows in her courtesy car and blast “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line for old time’s sake, too.
“I do still have my yardage book,” she said, smiling.
For a second consecutive year, Talley heads to the USWO with a significant advantage. She was a member at last year’s venue, Shoal Creek. In Charleston, Talley will have the backing of Subway staffers and club members alike. Talley hasn’t returned to Country Club of Charleston in six years, but her parents stopped by and took pictures a while back as they passed through.
While Talley’s memories of that week remain fresh, it’s fuzzy for other LPGA players who played in that Women’s Am.
Minjee Lee didn’t even remember making it to match play. She actually fell in the third round to Doris Chen.
Annie Park remembers the steamy weather and driving back to New York with her mom after she lost in the quarterfinals to Chen.
Alison Lee fell in the semifinals to Talley and is still haunted by the photos that were taken of her bloody nose. Lee’s nose began to bleed on the third tee during her semifinal match, and after a 15-minute medical break she was forced to carry on with a bandaged face. Lee cringes every time she sees pictures.
On a happier note, Lee still keeps in contact with her host family that lives on the course. To get back to Charleston, she’ll have to get through a 36-hole qualifier.
“I just remember it being really pure and really hot,” said Lee. “I played so well there.”
Brooke Henderson tied for third in stroke-play qualifying in Charleston and fell in the first round of match play. Leona Maguire, Lauren Stephenson and Maria Fassi advanced to match play, with Fassi losing to Talley in 19 holes in the Sweet 16.
Jennifer Kupcho, Andrea Lee, Lucy Li and Angel Yin are among the now well-known names that didn’t make the cut.
Talley’s favorite memory from the week was having her father, Dan, on the bag. The Alabama star would go on to win the NCAA Championship in 2015, making the Princeton, Ky., native even more of a small-town hero.
“I think it’s a good test,” Talley said of Seth Raynor’s design. “It’s all about the approach shots to me. You have to know where to miss it, where’s the best miss. I think it’s a fader’s course, which is good because I hit a fade.”
Talley’s confidence on the greens tanked after she heard Dottie Pepper’s comments about her putting stroke during the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open telecast. She used it as a catalyst to become one of the best amateurs in the game.
That must feel like a lifetime ago in some ways for the LPGA player, whose game was shaped in so many ways by her USGA experiences.
Maybe there’s magic still in Charleston for the Southern charmer. Gwk
(Note: This story appears in the May 2019 issue of Golfweek.)