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11-Year-Old Golfer Makes History at U.S. Women's Open


Sixth grader Lucy Li became the youngest-ever qualifier to compete at the U.S. Women's Open this past weekend, winning over fans, the media, and fellow golfers along the way.

The 11-year-old shot a 16-over 156 during the first two days, missing the cut by seven strokes. She managed to draw positives from the experience, though.

"I'm happy with how I played," Li told reporters after her first round, in which she shot an eight-over 78, per ESPNW.com's Mechelle Voepel. "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. I just need to get rid of those big numbers."

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Li lives in Redwood Shores, Calif., and recently completed sixth grade at an undisclosed private school. She also spends a few months in Miami every year, per The New York Times, and does her coursework through an independent study program while she's there. 

For an 11-year-old, she's also as cool as a cucumber. Before the tournament started, Li showed zero signs of nerves. A reporter asked her if anything during the week would make her nervous, to which she replied, "Ehhh...not really."

That confidence and her play seemingly helped her win over some of her group-mates.

"She looks 11. She doesn't talk 11. And she doesn't hit the ball like she's 11," said Catherine O'Donnell, who was in Li's pairing during the first day of the event. O'Donnell also told reporters that Li was "way better than I was expecting," per Voepel.

On Tuesday, in a pre-tournament press conference, Li told reporters what she hoped to get out of the experience:

I just want to go out there and have fun and play the best I can and I really don't care about the outcome, it's just I want to have fun and learn. I can learn a lot from these great players. ... I haven't really thought about (being a pro). Right now it's just play as well as I can and the game's going to take me wherever it's going to take me, so I just really don't care that much.

That perspective made her sound like a seasoned pro, despite her age. She reminded everyone that she was only 11, though, when she showed up to her post-round press conference after the first day with an ice-cream treat in hand.

"She was here for the experience and the opportunity to play with the best players in the world," Li's caddie, Bryan Bush, told reporters after her second round on Friday. "She proved that she can."

If she's capable of only missing the cut by seven strokes at the age of 11, imagine what she'll do by the time she can get her driver's license.

Photo: Lucy Li tees off as the crowd watches on the 14th hole during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., on  June 19. (Chuck Burton/AP)

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