Some would say that competing at Augusta National, then following it up with a spot in the US Open would complete a lifetime bucket list in golf.
For Lucy Li, it’s been a solid year, and she’s not even a teenager yet.
Li, an 11-year-old from Redwood Shores, Calif., just made golf history today, becoming the youngest ever to qualify for the US Women’s Open by winning a sectional qualifier event at Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. It was a dominating performance, as Li shot 74-68 for a 2-under-par aggregate, winning by seven strokes.
Li already had a huge win earlier this year, winning the 10-and-11 age group in the first ever Drive, Chip and Putt contest at Augusta National leading up to the Masters.
When she tees it up at Pinehurst this June, Li will become the second youngest ever to play in the event, and the youngest since 12-year-old Lexi Thompson earned her place in 2007. That’s some pretty heady company to keep, considering that Thompson has four career LPGA Tour titles and recently won her first major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Of course, expectations must be tempered. It seems that every few years there’s a new prodigy in the ladies’ game, and at 11 years old it would be insane to think that Li might turn into the next Thompson or Michelle Wie. She might not even like golf in a few years, and the pressure from family, friends and hangers-on to keep going can be crushing.
Then again, whenever history is made this way, you have to sit back and just applaud. For every player that spends their whole life just trying to get that one break, Li has had two huge moments this year alone. She could miss the cut at Pinehurst by 15 strokes and it would still be a worthy accomplishment. If golf remains her true passion, then who knows what these stepping stones could lead to in the future?