Lucy Li, aged 11, will be US Women’s Open youngest participant
Californian to tee up at Pinehurst after beating qualifying field by seven at Half Moon Bay
Lucy Li from Redwood City, California one her way to victory in her age cateory at the US National Finals of the Drive, Chip and Putt Championships last monthat Augusta National. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
Those who are uncomfortable with children being exposed to the harsh realities of top-level sport should look away now. An 11-year-old golfer, Lucy Li, has become the youngest player in history to qualify for the US Women’s Open.
Li will tee up at Pinehurst next month, alongside the top names in women’s golf, after carding rounds of 74 and 68 in a sectional qualifier at Half Moon Bay. Li defeated the field by seven strokes, which would constitute an eye-catching performance by a player regardless of their age.
In April, and immediately before the Masters, the Californian triumphed in her age group section of the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National.
She progressed to the US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the age of 10.
Now 19, Thompson has won six times in total as a professional.
Penalty for slow play
Guan Tianlang participated in the 2013 Masters at 14, making the cut despite a penalty for slow play. Then, and the same may well transpire with Li, there were fears expressed that someone so young should not be catapulted into such a high-profile environment.
“Suddenly, we had the world’s media on our doorstep,” explained Guan’s father, Hanwen. “CBS, ESPN and other television stations sent their reporters to Guangzhou. They followed him to school and back. They all wanted to know more about him.”
Tiger Woods, after all, did not play in a professional event until he was 16 or lose his amateur status until 20. –