SE: Talley Set to Compete in NCAA Regional

If Madison Talley gets in a bind on the golf course, she doesn’t sweat it. 

Instead, the women’s golf junior from Clarksville, Arkansas, looks at her options and keeps her focus on the next shot. 

She’s calm, cool and collected – characteristics her coaches say are what make her such a good golfer, and characteristics that helped her earn a bid to compete in this year’s NCAA Women’s Golf Regional. 

Following a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Big 12 Championship last weekend, Talley was selected as one of 24 players nationally to earn an individual bid to the tournament’s regional round. She will be competing as a No. 3 seed in the Baton Rouge (Louisiana) Regional, held May 5-7, at LSU’s University Club. 

“Madison did a really good job and we’re really proud of her, not only for her performance at Big 12s, but for how she’s played all year,” said K-State head coach Kristi Knight. “That’s how you get an NCAA bid, you put together a successful year, and she did that.” 

Entering the NCAA Regional, Talley is ranked in the top-100 among all collegiate golfers according to Golfweek following a season where she led her team with a career-best 73.06 stroke average. 

During the 2015-16 season, Talley earned four top-10 finishes, seven top-20 finishes and was named to the Big 12’s all-tournament team after her fourth-place finish at the conference championship – the first Wildcat since 2004 to earn the honor. 

“None of this comes without hard work, and I think she’s done an awesome job in terms of rising to the challenge,” said K-State assistant coach Stewart Burke. “She’s always been the one who’s been able to pick the team up when we’re in a slump at a tournament. Doing that, having that added pressure knowing that your score is going to count week in and week out, it’s a statement to her character.” 

This season marks the second consecutive year that Talley was selected to compete in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Talley became the first individual golfer in school history to go to an NCAA Regional and represented K-State in the post season for the first time since the team made an appearance in 2004. 

Last season, Talley was sent to San Antonio, Texas, where she shot an even-par 72 in each round to finish in a three-way tie for 23rd with a score of 216. She finished just two shots shy of advancing to the NCAA Championship but gained knowledge and experience that will help her immensely this time around. 

“It’s more familiar this year, so I think I’m more excited right now than I was nervous last year,” said Talley yesterday afternoon. “I’m really happy with the location I got and am really excited to see what the course is like. I know I’ve played good golf all year, and I’m excited to see how that carries on.” 

Neither Talley, Knight nor Burke have seen the course in Baton Rouge, but from what they’ve heard, it’s a tough one. However, competing on a more challenging course just might play in Talley’s advantage next week as she’s proven time and time again this season that she’s capable of handling just about any situation. 

“I’ve noticed that I’m much more confident when I’m in trouble,” explained Talley on where she’s grown the most in her game this year. “I know that I can get out of trouble, and I think that’s the biggest difference between last year and this year. I’ve handled getting in trouble well.” 

Knight nodded her head in agreement. The Wildcat coach has seen Talley go from hanging her head over a bad shot to lifting her chin, brushing it off and going for par regardless of where her ball lands. 

“Madison has grown tremendously as a player over the last year and a half,” said Knight. “She just stays very much within herself during the round. She’s steady. She’s not the longest hitter, she’s not the best putter on the team, but she’s the best at managing herself on the golf course and remembering at the end of the day it’s about your score. She doesn’t get too high or too low, and I think that’s the key.” 

Talley, Knight and Burke are set to head to Baton Rouge next Tuesday afternoon. Talley will have her first look at the University Course on Wednesday morning during the practice round, then the following day, May 5, she is scheduled to open NCAA play at 8:30 a.m. 

Talley will be joined by five other individuals in the Baton Rouge Regional: No. 1 seed Ashley Holder (Central Florida), No. 2 seed Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas), No. 4 seed Chieh Jessica Peng (Mississippi State), No. 5 seed Ji Eun Baik (Mississippi State) and No. 6 seed Meghan MacLaren (Florida International). 

“What I hope for her is that she goes and enjoys the experience and is able to play with the confidence and the freedom that she’s been playing with this entire season,” said Knight. “I know she’ll do the absolute best she can do and give it her all because she’s done that all year. My hope for her is that she enjoys the process of the event and plays like she has all year, and we’ll see where that puts her.” 

The four NCAA Regionals are comprised of 18 teams and six individuals. The top six teams and three individuals not on an advancing team from each region will compete in the 2016 NCAA Championship, held May 20-25, at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon. 

Stay tuned to next week for updates on Talley during her time at the tournament. 

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