MT Golf: Taryn Durham Walker enters Blue Raider Hall of Fame

Sep 26, 2018 at 08:00 am by Voice Wire

Taryn Durham Walker

Before Jenna Burris took home the Conference USA Championship in 2017, only one golfer in Middle Tennessee women's golf history had been low medalist at a conference meet.

In the spring of 2006, sophomore Taryn Durham Walker led the Lady Raiders into the Sun Belt Championship at PGA Golf Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla. She was eager to prove herself after finishing tied for 18th at the conference match a year prior due to a bout with mononucleosis in the weeks leading up to the event.

Walker had already made a name for herself in the MTSU record books, becoming the first woman golfer in program history to win back-to-back tournaments when she took the Lady Moc Classic and the USA Lady Jaguar titles during the spring of her freshman year. She also had already set the program record for lowest 54-hole score, tied the low single-round score and finished in the top 10 of eight straight tournaments.

After an opening-round 80 on the par 72 course, it looked as though Walker was in for a tough week. But, a second-round 71 put her right back into the thick of things heading into the final day.

Walker battled the tough course for an even better final round, firing a 2-under 70 to pull into a tie with Denver's Katie Kempter at the conclusion of 54 holes and sending them to a playoff.

With her teammates backing her, Walker fought to tie Kempter with a par on the first playoff hole, and after Kempter bogeyed the second, Walker clinched the title with a par.

"All of my teammates were cheering me on and I won in a playoff, and when we played, the guys and the girls played at the same location. I had that extra support there from the guys' team, and it was just a special, special win," Walker said.

The conference win was the third individual title of Walker's short career, already a program record. She was far from done, too.

She went on to win three tournaments as a junior in 2007 and finished as a four-time All-Sun Belt honoree. Her 29 top 10 finishes in 41 career events is still rank ninth nationally in Division I women's golf history, and she still owns four of the 15 school records she set while a Blue Raider, including six individual victories.

Walker also competed in the 2007 U.S. Women's Open as an amateur while representing MTSU.

"My golf career really began when I got to Middle," she said. "I was a decent high school player, but really took it to the next level when I got to campus. The coaching staff to the trainers, really everybody had an influence in my life there and really set me up for success after.

"For me, it just felt like home. It felt like the right fit, and all four years felt like a home away from home. It was just the perfect place for me."

Now, a little over a decade removed from her time in Murfreesboro, Walker will find another home on the MTSU campus.

On Saturday, she'll be inducted with six other former Blue Raiders into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame.

"It's definitely not something I was really expecting," Walker said. "When I got a call in the spring and got the news, I was very honored.

"I don't really like getting up in front of people speaking, but I'm just humbled and very honored for this recognition. I'm definitely proud to be a Blue Raider."

With her parents, in-laws, grandmother and her husband, Justin, and son, Jennings, in the crowd, Walker will be acknowledged on Saturday as one of the greatest Blue Raider student-athletes ever.

She'll also have another family member on stage with her.

"I'm eight months pregnant, so let's hope that it all goes well," she said. "I have about seven weeks until my due date."

If there's anything you can bet, it's that Walker's newest little one will be given a golf club and Blue Raider garb as soon it's born.

This is a part of a series of stories about the Blue Raider Hall of Fame inductees leading up to Saturday's Hall of Fame game. Induction ceremonies will take place on the lawn of the Kennon Sports Hall of Fame at 3:30 p.m., prior to this year's Hall of Fame Game vs. Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m.

Josh Vardaman is the staff writer for Follow him on Twitter @J_Vardaman and also follow @MTAthletics for more on the Blue Raiders.

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