Pinehurst, NC, United States (4E Sports) – Eleven-year-old Lucy Li will be the youngest player ever to participate United States Women’s Open, which will be in its 69th edition Thursday.
She became the youngest player ever to qualify for the event by posting rounds of 74 and 68 in a May sectional qualifier in Half Moon Bay, California.
Li finished seven strokes ahead of the runner-up, the 16-year-old amateur Kathleen Scavo.
She said it was her idea to enter the qualifier and didn’t care if she qualified or not.
“I just wanted to go for the experience,” she said, according to the NY Times.
Li, a home-schooled sixth-grader, divides her time between Redwood Shores, Calif. and Miami. She took up the sport at age 7 because her older brother, now at Princeton, was playing on his high school team. From the beginning, the game came easily to her.
Last year, as a 10-year old, she became the youngest qualifier for the United States Women’s Amateur Championship and the youngest to advance to match play at the United States Women’s Amateur Public Links. In April, she won her age division at the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship held at Augusta National ahead of the Masters.
In her practice rounds, Li has consistently been 50 yards shorter off the tee than the pros.
Her caddie, Bryan Bush, a former club pro, said he would not be surprised if she made the cut.
“You’re watching an 11-year-old hit a 5-wood as well as I can hit a pitching wedge,” he said. “I’m in complete awe all the time. The best part is she’s having fun.”