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A 15-year-old phenom made history with her 2024 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley win

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – In Greek, the term “asterisk” directly translates to “little star.”

For 15-year-old Asterisk Talley, that star won’t be little for long.

The California native cruised on Saturday, becoming the first wire-to-wire girls division champion in the history of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. She shot 70-70-67 over 54 holes, finishing 9-under-par and six strokes ahead of runner-up Rianne Mikhaela Malixi.

“Coming into today, I was like, ‘I think 3-under would be a good score.’ Then I was 5-under after the front nine,” she said. “I didn’t want to get really nervous and anxious, and I really ended up playing steady golf after that.”

The conditions changed throughout the three-day tournament, with the course becoming noticeably softer by Saturday. If anything, it inspired more confidence for each player in both fields. Talley was no different.

“I think I could be more aggressive because the greens were a little bit softer, so they wouldn’t roll out as much,” she said. “I think you could land the pins and they would stop by it, so I think I had more aggression toward the pins and I had a lot more room to mess up.”

For many, the ambiance of the week at Sage Valley becomes a balancing act of awe and competitiveness. It can be a difficult thing for even the most experienced junior golfers to keep in check, but Talley took it one shot at a time.

“The first day I was kind of nervous because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself going into the rest of the week,” she said. “Yesterday, I just played the same round even though the conditions were different. Coming into today, I just tried to start off really good and the rest of the round I could be comfortable with my game.”

Talley on the cusp of entering rarified air

Talley features a fiery competitiveness far beyond her years, so she doesn’t need to rely on any extra motivation. With the 2024 Augusta National Women’s amateur right around the corner, she said this win will provide a nice confidence boost as she prepares for an even tougher field at Champions Retreat and Augusta National Golf Club.

“Competing against the best players here gives me a lot of confidence, knowing that I can compete and go into ANWA with more of the best players in the world,” she said.

With the win Saturday, Talley could do something only one other woman has done. She can join 2022 ANWA and 2023 Junior Invitational champion Anna Davis as the only two to win both tournaments in their career. The scary thing is, the 15-year-old Talley may have two or three more cracks at each tournament before it’s all said and done.

Talley and Davis (now a freshman at Auburn) will meet in two weeks for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and they’ll likely have a lot to discuss throughout the week.

“I feel like it would be nice to know some things from her and learn from her and the past experience that she’s had,” Talley said. “She’s an amazing person and player and I think it would be great to learn from her.”

The 2024 Augusta National Women’s Amateur takes April 3-6, with the first two rounds taking place at Champions Retreat in Evans (April 3-4) and the final round at Augusta National (April 6).

 

Source: Golfweek



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