Lucy Li, at age 11, makes US golf history

Updated: 2014-05-23 07:50

By Elizabeth Wu in New York (China Daily USA)

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Lucy Li, at age 11, makes US golf history
Lucy Li putts on the 10th hole at the US Women's Public Links event last June in Oklahoma. [Photo / Agencies]

Lucy Li began playing golf as far back as anyone in her family can remember. But it isn't that far back because she's only 11. Now she has made golfing history, becoming the youngest player ever to qualify for the US Women's Open.

Lucy qualified on Monday by shooting rounds of 74 and 68 on the par-72 Old Course at Half Moon Bay in a sectional qualifier in California, beating second-place qualifier Kathleen Scavo by seven strokes.

"Lucy is very honored to have qualified for the 2014 US Women's Open, and to have the opportunity to compete in this most prestigious national championship." said the Li family in a statement issued by the US Golf Association on Monday. "Her time spent playing in last year's USGA championships, as well as her win at Drive, Chip & Putt, have provided her with many good opportunities that she will consider as she prepares for the US Women's Open."

Lucy beats the previous mark held by fellow American Lexi Thompson, who qualified for the 2007 installment aged 12. But she won't be the youngest to compete at the tournament. That honor is still held by Beverley Klass, who competed in 1967 aged just 10 without having to qualify.

Lucy qualified for the match-play portion of the US Women's Amateur Public Links Championship last year, but lost in the first round. She has also won at the Augusta (Georgia) National Golf Club, site of the famous Masters Tournament, in her age group in the first annual Drive, Chip & Putt Championship in April.

Golf runs in the Li family, which lives in Redwood Shores, California. Lucy's father Warren plays, as does her brother, Luke, who is 19 and attends Princeton University.

At the age of 4, Lucy's parents took her to Jim McLean's golf school in Miami, Florida, located on the Trump National Dural property, where her aunt Tao took care of her.

She qualified for the US Women's Amateur Public Links golf tournament at the age of 10. Lucy is not the youngest player to participate in the US Women's Open; Beverly Klass was 10 when she competed in the event prior to the qualification process in 1967.

"Lucy developed a tremendous dedication, and she has great focus. She is very smart and picks things up easily," said McLean. "Lucy is very bright, and has a good head on her shoulders. She has developed her skills at a nice, even, fast, rate, and she has a nice swift curve."

The US Women's Open starts on June 19, in Pinehurst, North Carolina, one week after the men play in the US Open on the same course.