11-Year-Old Lucy Li Qualifies For U.S. Open

Lucy Li became the youngest player to qualify to play in the U.S. Open by winning a sectional qualifier at Half Boon Bay Golf Club near San Francisco Monday.

The 11-year-old had rounds of 74 and 68 and surpasses Lexi Thompson as the youngest ever to qualify to play in a U.S Women’s Open. She beat second-place qualifier Kathleen Scavo by seven strokes.

Thompson was 12 years, 4 months, 18 days old when she qualified in 2007 according to ESPN.

Li, from Redwood Shores, California already has a victory at Augusta National, having won her age group in the first annual Drive, Chip and Putt Championship held in April just ahead of the Masters.

She will not be the youngest player to play in the U.S.Women’s Open. Beverly Klass was 10 when she competed in the Open in 1967 which was before the qualification process.

Anyone with a registered handicap of 2.4 can go through the process to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open.

Li will be heading to Pinehurst in North Carolina to play in the third major of the women’s season follows the men’s tournament at the same venue on June 17 for the first time in history.

Li made it from the USGA’s first international qualifying events which took place in the United States, China, England, Japan and Korea.

Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National, said in April about the Drive, Chip and Putt championship “We’re going to be hearing from some of these kids again.” That was just six weeks ago reported the San Francisco Examiner.

Judy Rankin, member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and current analyst for The Golf Channel remembers entering the 1959 U.S. Women’s Open at Churchill Valley Country Club in Pittsburgh as a 14-year-old.

“When I went to register, they asked me if I was registering for my mother,” Rankin said Tuesday. “I weighed 80 pounds. I remember the first tee was way up high. I was shaking. I was so scared, so nervous. I thought I could fall off. I didn’t even make the cut. I was probably ill-prepared to be playing. But the next year, I was low amateur.”

Li began playing at age 7. She now works with famed teacher Jim Mclean.

“For people with talent, regardless of age, today’s equipment is making the game a lot easier to learn,” Rankin said. “For talented people, they are learning the game quicker and easier. That has a big bearing on it.”

“No one in the world is better at mimicking than children,” she said. “I can go way back to a friend of mine from U.S. Amateur days, Helen Sigel Wilson. She always said the way to teach a kid how to play good golf is only let them see great players. They can figure it out.”

[Image via golfchannel.com]

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