AUGUSTA, Ga. — Asterisk Talley was bound to attract some attention this week at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Having turned 15 in February, the Chowchilla, Calif., native could brag that she was the youngest golfer in this elite 72-player field after getting a special invitation to compete in the fifth edition of the event. She also shares the same swing coach as Bryson DeChambeau (Mike Schy). And, of course, there’s her first name, memorable for its uniqueness with a sentimental origin story.

The attention that the high school freshman is most proud of attracting, however, comes from the fact that she is among the 35 players still competing in the ANWA entering the final round. Having successfully navigated Champions Retreat over 36 holes to make the cut by one shot at three-over 147, she has a 7:50 a.m. tee time Saturday at Augusta National. Making up eight shots on leader Lottie Woad will be a challenge, but the fact Talley has the opportunity proves a point, if only to herself.

She’s got some game to back up the name.

“I’m going to be so excited [for the final round],” Talley said on Friday, the tournament on pause as everybody gets in a practice round at Augusta National. “I have a little nerves, but I feel like I can calm those down whenever I want, and I feel like I’m just going to be so happy to tee it up at the first tee at Augusta. Like everyone that plays golf wants to do that, and I feel like not a lot of people … almost no people get a chance to do that. It feels so special to just be up there and teeing it off, so I’m going to have a lot of fun.”

2024 Augusta National Women's Amateur

Asterisk Talley tees off on the par-3 12th during her Friday practice round at Augusta National Golf Club.

Thomas Lovelock

It’s been a big three weeks for Talley, having won the prestigious Junior Invitational at Sage Valley in nearby South Carolina before continuing her success in Georgia. That comes off a big nine months in which she won three AJGA events, rising to fourth in the junior rankings and just outside the top 100 among all women’s amateurs.

Get past the braces and the fact she still has 10 months to go before even being able to get a learner’s permit to drive, and there is a maturity that belies Talley’s youth. Take her approach toward the inevitable questions about the name. For the record, Talley’s mother is Greek, and in Greek Asterisk means “little star.”

“I always get crap for it,” Talley noted, “but I’m going to say it anyways.”

More ANWA Coverage Augusta National Women’s Amateur Rules issues hits ANWA champ for second straight year, misses cut by one after pace-of-play penalty How to Watch 2024 Augusta National Women’s Amateur: Field, TV listings, Viewer’s Guide budding golf power couple Alex Fitzpatrick goes from boyfriend to caddie at Augusta National Women’s Amateur

There’s also the expectation she has for herself. Being a top-ranked golfer has been a goal of Talley’s for some time. She’s worked on all aspects of her game with Schy, first adopting some of the same techniques as DeChambeau with the single-length clubs, then returning to a more traditional swing concepts.

Beside her on-course development, Talley has also been preparing for success off the course and outside the ropes. Like learning to sign a proper autograph, something she consciously started to do when she was just 8.

“My dad was just, like, you need to practice it because that’s when your handwriting starts getting better,” Talley said. “It’s not like little kid anymore. He was just like, now you need to start actually signing because you know how to write. So there you go.”

She does it with flare, dotting her “i” with … wait for it … an asterisk.

Gianna Clemente knows the challenge that Talley faced this week. A year ago, Clemente was the youngest in the ANWA field, also at 15, and also made the cut. “I think it shows this generation, younger generation is really good,” said Clemente, who is only two shots off the lead this week with a chance to join Anna Davis as the second 16-year-old to win the ANWA title. “I’m very happy to see juniors making the cut. That’s really great. She’s a great player. She definitely deserves it.”

https://www.golfdigest.com/content/dam/images/golfdigest/fullset/2024/4/asterisk-talley-signature.jpg

When Ingrid Lindblad, the top-ranked women’s amateur in the world and a leading contender for NCAA player of the year at LSU, was asked if she could have made the cut in this event when she was 15 years old, she laughed. “The year when I was 15, I started the year off shooting 88 and 87 in an event, so no.”

Prior to the practice round on Friday, Talley had played Augusta National—specifically the 18th green—having qualified twice for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. But Saturday, as she plays all 18 holes in front of thousands of patrons, will be a new experience.

“I’m just trying to have fun, honestly, now,” she said. “It was hard and tough to get here. It was work. I was just trying my hardest to get to the cut, and after that, I was just like, well, let’s just have fun at Augusta because it’s Augusta, what are you going to do. But I’m still going to try and play my best golf.”

More Masters preview stories The ones that got away The lost green jackets of the Masters, and the men who nearly put them on Augusta’s unwritten rules How Bryson DeChambeau broke an unwritten rule of Augusta National Yummy Jon Rahm’s Champions Dinner menu is a Spanish FEAST that includes a little home cooking

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com