Gillman and Talley make cut at U.S. Women’s Open

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Kristen Gillman and Emma Talley spent the first two days of the U.S. Women’s Open in the same grouping in the same grouping, but the ties for the two golfers runs much deeper than that.

Both Gillman and Talley have strong ties to the University of Alabama, a powerhouse school when it comes to the sport of college golf, and said they were hearing a lot of roll tides out on the course.

Talley graduated from Alabama in 2016 and led the Crimson Tide to several strong finishes in the NCAA tournament in her time at the school, while she took the individual title in 2015.

Gillman, on the other hand, is currently at the university and just came off a run to the final match of the National Championship. The team finished as runner-up to Arizona, but it marked just the second time Alabama had made it to the final match, winning it all in 2012 — the year before Talley arrived at Alabama.

While the two standouts were never at Alabama together, they have formed a friendship and got the opportunity to compete for another sort of National Championship in the state that brought them each national success at the collegiate level.

Known as America’s National Championship, the U.S. Women’s Open is one of the most prestigious tournaments played each and every year, and both Gillman and Talley were able to make the weekend cut.

That’s a special milestone for both players for many different reasons.

Aside from playing in the state she now attends college, Gillman is still an amateur. Making the cut in a major championship as an amateur is an incredible feat and earns players a lot of recognition.

She was one of just six amateurs to make the cut and one of just three in the top 20 after the cut was made finishing her first two rounds at Even par.

“It definitely feels good to make the cut because it’s the first cut I’ve made so far in any professional event,” Gillman said. “I was just going out there trying to play the best I could and not worry about the cut number.”

At just 20 years old and a sophomore at Alabama, Gillman isn’t unfamiliar with this success. She earned SEC All-SEC First Team honors this year and has been named to the 2018 Curtis Cup team as one of 12 players to make the team.

She’s also played in four professional events prior to this, competing in the 2014 Evian Championship, 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, 2015 British Women’s Open and the 2015 LPGA Classic, all of which were while she was in high school.

For Talley, who lives close by in Kentucky, the excitement is built up not just because it is the state she went to college in, but because she has called Shoal Creek home for the last several years and now has had the opportunity to compete for a major championship on her home course.

While the first day was a bit up and down due to the wet conditions, Talley was able to bounce back from her opening-round 74, to post a 1-under par round of 71 on Friday to make the cut comfortably.

“I’m very excited,” she said, almost relieved. “This will be a memory I have for the rest of my life playing a U.S. Open at my home course for the past couple of years and in the state of Alabama where I went to school.”

Talley, who had to win a playoff in a qualifying tournament just to make the tournament, said she was fortunate enough to win that playoff and now she’s made the cut, so she couldn’t be any happier with that accomplishment.

Both said there were some nerves competing in the event, especially in the first round, but talked about how much more calm and relaxed they were in round two, which played a part in each making the cut.

It marks a special and historic moment for each golfer, and a memory that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.