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Feeling calmer, Emma Talley opens VOA Classic in 65

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For the first time in months, Emma Tally felt calm on the course. That breakthrough came Thursday at the LPGA's Volunteers of America Classic.

Tally, the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, shot 6-under 65 and was two shots behind early Day 1 leader and former world No. 1 Jin Young Ko. 

“I think out here it's grueling,” Talley told reporters after her round. “Week in, week out, whether you play good or not, you're expected to play the next Thursday.”

In 2020, Talley lost a good friend, former Kentucky golfer Cullan Brown. This year on the LPGA, she's only made three cuts in 10 tournaments, and in those three events she finished outside of the top 40. Talley knew it was time to re-assess. She hired sports psychologist Paul Dewland and went back to her old swing coach, Todd Trimble, who began coaching her at age 9 until splitting for a couple of years, only teaming up again last December.

“Between the two of them and the work we've put in it's finally all paid off,” Talley said.

Full-field scores from the Volunteers of America Classic

Anyone who's friends with Talley knows that she’s energetic, extroverted and always smiling. Despite her adversity, it’s her optimism and passion that persevered, and slowly she started to see improvements in her game.

“Just being confident in the process and knowing what I've been working on for six months now was eventually going to take off,” she said.

Talley struck the ball well and had several tap-in birdies on Thursday. At one point she had lost track of her score. “I looked at my caddie on the last hole and I said, Do you have any idea what we’re shooting today?” 

“I knew this day was coming,” she said. “Finally it's all paid off. So hopefully the next three days treat me just the same.”