The 11-year-old Lucy Li, U.S. Women's Open qualifier and definitely a keeper, posted an exceedingly respectable 78 in her first round at Pinehurst No. 2.
As Will Gray reported, Li posted 78 after a rough start.
The 11-year-old got off to a rocky start with a double bogey on her opening hole, but she steadied herself from there and made a pair of birdies on her second nine.
The score left her 11 shots off the lead set by Stacy Lewis (67), but Li was still one shot better than both Natalie Gulbis, a former winner on the LPGA, and Jessica Korda, who has two victories to her credit this season.
“I’m happy with how I played,” Li said. “I mean, it’s 8 over, it’s not bad. But I was 7 over in three holes, so that’s 1 over in 15 holes. So, yeah. I just need to get rid of the big numbers.”
Her post round meeting with the scribes at Pinehurst's "flash area" included an ice cream. The video:
Meanwhile in polling "no age limit" for the US Open(s) is making a strong charge after "age limit" got off to a great start. Guessing Li's great showing--including beating Jessica Korda and Natalie Gulbis and tying Cheyenne Woods--might change the view of some, but right now age limit leads at 56%.
**Bill Fields on Li's opening 78 that included a double and a triple.
Li, who carries the ball close to 200 yards with her driver, hit 13 of 14 fairways (missing only her first hole by a yard or so), nine of 18 greens and had 32 putts on the undulating greens. Her glaring weakness was sand play, failing to save par from six greenside bunkers. A visit to the front-left bunker on the 339-yard par-4 third hole was her most costly error after a pulled wedge approach rolled off the green into the sand. She hit her third shot over the green, chipped on and three-putted for a 7.
If that was her short-game nadir, the highlight was a 30-yard pitch off a tight lie to a perched green from long and right of the eighth green - “We could have ordered a lemonade from [there],” said caddie Bryan Bush - that stopped 10 feet from the flagstick to applause from the caddies in the group. “Give her that shot again,” said O’Donnell, “and she can’t do that [with] another 50 [tries],” said O’Donnell.
Jeff Babineau also followed Li and writes:
There was concern that an 11-year-old might be overmatched on such a difficult course and might be embarrassed. Why, she should be at camp somewhere, or on some playground at home with her peers. But this is the most democratic game of all. Shoot the scores, and you are welcome to jump in and play.
“Look,” said former U.S. Open champion Laura Davies, a fellow qualifier, earlier this week, “if you're good enough, you're old enough. Or young enough. Whichever way you look at it. If you can play the golf and you can qualify, then have a go. What's the worst that can happen? She shoots a million this week and everyone says, wasn't it great she was here?”
USA Today posted five of AP's best Li photos.
Pinehurst caddie Bryan Bush is looping for 11-year-old Lucy Li and talks about his client to Alex Podlogar.