Tallman battles pain, targets third state title

Brittany Tallman’s decision was a difficult one.

Brittany Tallman’s decision was a difficult one.

Issaquah’s two-time state golf champion could have packed in her high school season a couple of weeks ago and looked ahead to her college career. Instead, the senior decided to forgo a planned surgery over spring break and battle through her final season as an Eagle.

“I didn’t really want to leave my high school team stranded,” she said. “I started the whole high school golf thing and I wanted to just finish out all four years.”

For nearly three years, Tallman has suffered from inflammation and pain in her left wrist. Doctors only recently discovered it was due to an enlarged scaphoid bone that rubs against a tendon. She first experienced discomfort a couple of weeks after winning the class 3A state title as a freshman. Since then, the pain has come and gone, hindering her ability to hit the course on a regular basis. In fact, she didn’t participate in any tournaments between August 2007 and the start of the high school season in March. She limits her team practices, and occasionally works out with her personal instructor in Blaine.

“It hurts when I hinge my backswing and I break my wrist,” she said. “It kind of feels like a snap, kind of like a popping.”

Tallman has undergone numerous tests since first experiencing the pain, but it wasn’t until a recent visit to a specialist in Florida that the problem was diagnosed.

The original decision to have surgery over spring break would have sped up her healing process and had her more prepared to walk on at the University of Washington in the fall, but it would have also left her with a void.

“It would be very exciting to win (state) a third time, because not many people have done it,” Tallman said.

According to WIAA records, there have only been five female golfers other than Tallman in class 3A and 4A to win multiple state titles. Only one of those, Sedro-Woolley’s Kelli Kamimura, has won more than two. She took four straight 3A titles between 1995-98.

Tom Bakamus, who has coached the IHS girls for the past seven years, is excited to see Tallman keep going.

“She’s the top golfer that Issaquah’s ever seen, boy or girl, as far as statistics and state competition,” he said.

Bakamus said he does little coaching of Tallman, noting all he does is hand her the scorecard and a pencil.

“Her iron play is consistent as heck, just always the right distance and never waivers,” he said. “She has a bad hole and she comes back right after that. Nothing bothers her.”

Her composure was put on display from the beginning of her career. In her first state tournament appearance at Spokane’s Hangman Valley Golf Course, Tallman took a four-stroke lead after the first day. She stumbled the second day, shooting a 45 on the front nine. Instead of getting flustered, Tallman clamped down and shot a 36 on the back nine. In danger of losing on the final hole, she stuck a chip shot within two feet of the hole and knocked in a birdie to seal the victory.

After being hampered by the injury her sophomore year, Tallman finished fourth in state. She bounced back last year, however, winning her second title. She shot a two under par 144 at Sudden Valley Golf Course in Bellingham, beating her nearest competitor by nine strokes. She capped off the tournament, chipping in back-to-back shots on holes 16 and 17.

As far as this year’s aspirations, Tallman admitted she has envisioned claiming her third state title May 20-21 at Shuksan Golf Course in Bellingham. But she also is careful not to get too far ahead.

“It would definitely mean a lot to me,” she said. “You can’t always control if you win, but you can obviously do everything to do your best. Obviously, I could go out and shoot a 68 and someone else can go out and shoot a 67 and beat me. You just play your best and hopefully your best wins.”

Tallman will put off her wrist surgery until June and will walk on to the UW team in the fall. Because of her injury, colleges were reluctant to offer her a scholarship, but she said the UW will likely offer her a scholarship after two years.