Lucy Li made history on Monday as the youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. The 11-year-old won the sectional qualifier at Half Moon Bay in California, posting rounds of 74-68 (and beating the second-place competitor by seven strokes).
When Li tees it up at Pinehurst in June, she will surpass the previous record held by Lexi Thompson, who was 12 when she competed in the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open.
However, Li will not be the youngest competitor to play in the Women’s Open. Beverly Klass played in the 1967 U.S. Women’s Open at Virginia Hot Springs Golf & Tennis Club in Hot Springs, Virginia, at 10 years, 7 months, 21 days old, before sectional qualifying was introduced, which was in 1976. Still, Li’s accomplishment is perhaps even more impressive since she had to qualify to earn her spot.
For what it’s worth, the Old Course at Half Moon Bay was set up at 6,241 yards with a 76.6 rating.
Li, who is from Redwood, California, already has quite the resume. She won her age group (10-11) in the Drive, Chip and Putt contest at Augusta National Golf Club, held in April right before The Masters.
Last June, Li qualified for the match-play portion of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship but lost in the first round. Then, in August, she shot a one-under 70 in the second round of the stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, missing a playoff for the match-play by two shots.
Li takes lessons from esteemed instructor Jim McLean.
“She is still learning to play,” swing instructor Jim McLean told the Charleston Post-Courier last August prior to the U.S. Women’s Amateur via USGA.com. “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.”
Li will step into one of the largest stages in women’s golf at Pinehurst when the U.S. Women’s Open is played from June 19-22.