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Emma Talley has stress-free, but frustrating 2-under par 70 in opening round

Emma Talley, left, and Jessica Korda during Thursday’s first round. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

INDIANAPOLIS — Emma Talley hit 16 of 18 greens, missed just one fairway and seem to have birdie putts inside 15 feet — and often 10 feet — all day during the opening round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship at the Brickyard Crossing.

Yet she finished with just a 2-under par 70 in the first round because she needed 32 putts.

“I played really well today,” said Tally, a three-time Kentucky high school champion from Caldwell County and a NCAA champion at Alabama. “I just couldn’t get the putter on. Hopefully it goes better tomorrow.”

Playing partner Lydia Ko had a 6-under par 66 — with a ball in the water — because she seemed to make almost every makable putt she had. That’s one reason she’s won 15 tournaments since 2014.

“It was definitely stress free but a very frustrating round. It was not really what I was looking for, but I hit the ball great and some days there is just not anything you can do about it,” Talley said. “The putts just weren’t dropping. A few times the book said one thing, we saw the same thing and then it went the complete opposite. It happens. Just got to move on, practice and get ready for tomorrow.”

Her best two putts were probably the ones to save par when she did miss greens.

“Those were both good. I had plenty of (birdie) looks. Days like this just happen,” Talley, who made a 5-foot birdie putt on her final hole, said. “But I love this course. You can go for all the flags, so I like it.”

Talley ranks 116th in putting average on the LPGA Tour — one reason she recently hired her first putting coach. She’s had lessons in the past, but never a coach devoted to helping with her putting.

“I just hired him a few weeks ago and I really love him. The stroke feels better than ever and at the putting green I am making everything. Just waiting for that to go on the course with me,” she said.

“It was the next step for me. There is never going to be a good time to change something. I have never really had a lot of help (with my putting). Look at Lydia today. She made everything. I want to make more putts. I want to be No. 1 in the world. To do that, I have got to make more putts. It is just something I wanted to do and have wanted to do for a long time and this was as good a time to do it before we head to Asia for the end of the year.”

Dan Talley, right, talks to Joe Hafley of Stanford during Thursday’s opening round. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Her parents, Jennifer and Dan Talley, walked the course Thursday along with Talley’s aunt and uncle and a few other friends from Princeton. She expects more fans to be here this weekend to see her play.

“It’s great to have them out this week just to help me relax. Mom helps with all the behind the scenes — getting my clothes washed, getting food and all that stuff. It’s nice to have Dad out here as well,” Talley laughed and said. “Dad probably walks the course three times because he shuffles around and is a nervous wreck. He never says anything to me, which is great.”

She spent two weeks overseas playing in the Scottish Open and British Open — and also took a few extra vacation days in London where she said the best thing was “not playing golf” a few days.

“We had a lot of fun. Just did all the tourist things. It was really fun,” she said.

She’s also qualified for the LPGA season-ending Asian swing.

“ I have never been to that side of the world and my game feels really good right now, so I am looking forward to it,” she said. “I just want to keep hitting the ball like I am and hope the ball goes in the hole.

“I just take it one day at a time. I don’t look at the rankings or money (earnings). I just play golf. They don’t really matter. It’s a game you have to play to yourself and try to get better each day. Sometimes you have a day like this when the ball doesn’t go in the hole, but that’s just golf. You just move on.”

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