Golf world abuzz with 11-year-old Lucy Li’s U.S. Women’s Open entry

Lucy Li, 11, is the youngest person to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.
(Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images)

Two days later, it seems the golf world is still wondering what to think of Lucy Li.

The 11-year-old girl made history this week, winning a sectional qualifying tournament in Half Moon Bay, Calif., to earn a spot in the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open.

That makes her the tournament’s youngest qualifier ever and, for the most part, the sport is celebrating her achievement.


PGA Tour star Keegan Bradley tweeted that Li’s accomplishment was “so amazing and cool.”

“Trying to get this straight in my head,” tweeted Dottie Pepper, the former pro golfer turned television analyst.

But amid the social media buzz, there was skepticism, people wondering about the potential pressure on a schoolgirl playing among adults.

There was also concern about the state of women’s golf in the U.S., given that a sixth-grader could make the field in one of the nation’s most prestigious tournaments.

As of Tuesday evening, the only one who hadn’t weighed in on the issue was Li. She and her family were conspicuously absent from the media blitz.

This much is known: the Redwood Shores, Calif., resident already has an impressive resume. She qualified for the match-play portion of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship last year, losing in the first round. And she won her age bracket in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National.

“She is still learning to play,” her swing instructor, Jim McLean, told the Charleston Post-Courier last August. “She makes great contact almost every time and she has improved her accuracy. It’s fun to watch her. I’m very proud of Lucy, the person she is, how mature, how smart and how nice she is. She’s a very nice girl.”

Previously, the youngest golfer to qualify for the Open was 12-year-old Lexi Thompson, who shot 86-82 and failed to make the cut.

Thompson, now 19, turned pro in 2010 at the age of 15 and a year later became the youngest winner of an LPGA event. She has won four LPGA tournaments, including the Kraft Nabisco this year.

Beverly Klass competed in the 1967 U.S. Open at 10, before players had to qualify.

The Open is scheduled to tee off on June 19 at North Carolina’s Pinehurst golf resort.