At 15, Asterisk Talley is Truly a Little Star*

By Ron Sirak

| Jun 01, 2024 | Lancaster, Pa.

At 15, Asterisk Talley is Truly a Little Star*

There’s no need to place an asterisk after the accomplishments of 15-year-old Asterisk Talley. Her resumé speaks for itself with absolutely no qualifiers. The name Asterisk means Little Star in Greek and that’s exactly how this refreshing blast of teenage energy has emerged at the 79th U.S. Women’s Open Presented by Ally.

Earning a spot in her first U.S. Women’s Open with rounds of 68 and 69 in the qualifier at San Joaquin Country Club in Fresno, Calif., on May 6, Talley has handled the challenges of Lancaster Country Club with almost as much ease as she’s shown in charming the fans and media.

Talley moved into contention with opening rounds of 70 and 71 before stumbling in Saturday’s third round with an 8-over-par 78. But even in that she showed remarkable poise for anyone, let alone someone her age, steadying herself after playing the first four holes in 5 over par.

The good humor with which she approaches championship golf make it appear that the Chowchilla High School freshman is she’s more concerned with getting her freshman year high school homework done than she is with the demands of a very challenging golf course. Such are the joys of youth.

Asterisk Talley at Lancaster

15-year-old Asterisk Talley plays her approach shot to the 18th green on Saturday at Lancaster C.C. She was one of four amateurs to make the cut. (Jason E. Miczek/USGA)

“I feel like I'm really calm on the golf course,” said Talley, who hired a local caddie to help steer her around Lancaster Country Club.

“People always tell me that, too,” she said. “I don't really get like really hyped on the golf course. I feel like when I make a birdie, I'm like, well, whatever, and if I make a bogey, it's like, well, I'll birdie the next hole. I'm not really a feisty competitor. I feel like I'm a calm, collected person.”

Talley came into the championship with her goal set on making the cut. When she cleared that bar easily she upped her aspirations to being low amateur. Of the four amateurs who made the cut, Talley is in the mix, trailing University of Southern California rising junior Catherine Park by five strokes going into Sunday’s final round.

What makes Talley’s performance this week even more remarkable is the fact she rolled into Lancaster off a competitive schedule that was as hectic as it was impressive.

Earlier this year, the Northern Californian native won the prestigious Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, then finished eighth in the Augusta National Women's Amateur, just a few weeks after being one of the 10 girls named to the inaugural U.S. National Junior Team. She attended a USNJT camp at Atlanta Athletic Club in mid-May and then traveled to San Antonio, Texas, where she claimed the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball title with partner Sarah Lim at Oak Hills C.C.

Asterisk on Friday at Lancaster

Asterisk Talley at her press conference during the second round of the 2024 U.S. Women's Open Presented by Ally. (Jason E. Miczek/USGA)

“She’s wise beyond her years,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, managing director of the U.S. National Development Program. “We are trying to develop athletes who thrive on and off the golf course and provide tools they might not already have. We teach skills like course management but also emphasize values like gratitude. We want to build the whole person.”

In 2023, Talley captured the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, one of the major events on the American Junior Golf Association circuit. She also represented the United States in the 2023 Junior Solheim Cup in Spain, and advanced to the Round of 32 of the 2023 U.S. Girls' Junior. A year earlier, she reached the Round of 16 in the U.S. Girls' Junior at 13 years of age. Talley already is inside the top 90 of the Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking®, and likely will rise after this week’s performance. 

Talley and the U.S. National Junior Team will have its first competition against Australia in July at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wis., with each team fielding six boys and six girls. Clearly, she’ll be ready for the challenge.

*An asterisk is a special character on a keyboard, and that might be the best way to describe Asterisk Talley. She’s a Little Star who is truly a special character.

Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer.