Former University of Alabama star Emma Talley will go from last to first, in a manner of speaking, when the 2019 U.S. Women's Open Championship begins play next week at the Country Club of Charleston.
Talley, the last person to win a U.S. Golf Association Championship at the Country Club of Charleston, will be the first player off the first tee in the opening round of the 74th U.S. Women's Open, which will be played May 28-June 2.
Talley defeated China's Yueer Cindy Feng, 2 and 1, to win the 2013 Women's Amateur, an event that helped set the stage for the USGA's return this year to the Country Club of Charleston.
Complete pairings for the opening two rounds won't be released until Saturday, but here's a sneak peek at several of the top groupings.
Talley has drawn a 7 a.m. start off No. 1 for the opening round and will be joined by Ally McDonald and Mariah Stackhouse. Since turning pro in 2018, Talley has won $484,290 and has four top-10 finishes. The threesome's starting time for Friday's second round will be 12:45 p.m.
Stackhouse, a Stanford graduate, was the first African-American named to the U.S. Curtis Cup team where she played with Talley. Her father, Ken Stackhouse, competed on the Charleston Southern track team for two years, and her father's cousin, Jerry Stackhouse, was an All-American basketball player at North Carolina and an NBA standout.
Another feature pairing for the first two rounds will be 2018 Women's Open winner Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand and 2017 winner Sung Hyun Park of South Korea playing with American Lexi Thompson. They will open at 8:06 a.m. Thursday on the 10th hole (1:51 p.m. Friday).
Jutanugarn won three times in 2018, including the Women's Open at Shoal Creek, and has 10 career wins and earnings of $7,577,053. Two of Park's six career victories have been majors, including the 2017 Women's Open at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J. She has career earnings of $4,208,887. Thompson has 10 career wins, including one major, and earnings of $8,844,805. Thompson qualified for the 2007 Women's Open at age 12, the youngest ever to that point. Lucy Li eclipsed that mark in 2014 when she qualified at age 11.
Another top opening-round draw features a trio of collegians — Wake Forest's Jennifer Kupcho, Sierra Brooks of the University of Florida and Arkansas' Maria Fassi. Kupcho and Fassi, who will be making their professional debuts, finished 1-2 in the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur. Fassi just won the NCAA Women's Division I championship and Brooks finished second.