11-Year-Old Lucy Li Qualifies For U.S. Women's Open, Creates History by Becoming Youngest Player

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 21, 2014 8:45 AM EST

Lucy Li becomes the youngest player in the history of the U.S. Women's Open to qualify for the golf competition. She won the sectional qualifier at Half Moon Bay in California.

REUTERS/Mike Blake
Dave Cordero of TaylorMade putts into a 15-inch inch hole at his company's golf facility in Carlsbad, California May 9, 2014. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), the sport has lost five million players in the United States in the past decade and 20 percent of the 25 million golfers now active in the country are likely to quit in the next few years. Golf, though, is responding to its own warning cries of 'Fore' by thinking outside of the time-honoured traditions of the game that was invented in Scotland in the late 15th century as it faces arguably its biggest struggle for survival in the 21st. Among the innovations: soccer balls instead of a dimpled Titleist or Callaway; golf holes with a 15-inch diameter that look more like a bucket than the traditional cup; the ability for players to clock in and out of rounds and thereby pay for as long as they are on the course. Picture taken May 9, 2014.

The 11-year-old prodigy carded rounds of 74 and 68 on the par-72 Old Course on Monday, May 19. She is going to surpass Lexi Thompson who held the earlier record as the youngest players in the U.S. Women's Open. She was 12 when she had qualified for the 2007 competition. Li will is scheduled to play her first game at Pinehurst on June 19 to achieve the feat officially, Huffington Post reported.

Li, at the age of 10, qualified for the US Women's Amateur Public Links in 2013. She won from her age section of the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta before the Masters had been held. Thompson, on the other hand, is ranked 6th in the world. At present, she is just 19. However, she has already managed to win six professional events which included a major one named the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Another young playe,r Morgan Pressel, was 12 when she played in the U.S. Open in 2001. She has won five professional tournaments as well, The Guardian reported.

Li may take a few lessons from Michelle Wie who failed to rise up to the high expectations after she had started her career at Li's age. Wie, now 24, has a decent professional career at the moment. Her development as a professional was apparently harmed by the premature excitement surrounding her. Iconic golfers like Tiger Woods became a professional golfer only at the age of 20. Guan Tianlang became the youngest Masters participant, breaking the record set by Italian golfer Matteo Manassero who made another record earlier by becoming the youngest winner of the PGA Championship at Wentworth.

ESPN reported that Li would not be the youngest player to "participate" in the U.S. Women's Open. It was Beverly Klass who competed in the tournament at the age of 10 in 1967. She took part in the competition prior to the qualification process.

The U.S. Women's Open starts on June 19.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake / )
Dave Cordero of TaylorMade putts into a 15-inch inch hole at his company's golf facility in Carlsbad, California May 9, 2014. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), the sport has lost five million players in the United States in the past decade and 20 percent of the 25 million golfers now active in the country are likely to quit in the next few years. Golf, though, is responding to its own warning cries of 'Fore' by thinking outside of the time-honoured traditions of the game that was invented in Scotland in the late 15th century as it faces arguably its biggest struggle for survival in the 21st. Among the innovations: soccer balls instead of a dimpled Titleist or Callaway; golf holes with a 15-inch diameter that look more like a bucket than the traditional cup; the ability for players to clock in and out of rounds and thereby pay for as long as they are on the course. Picture taken May 9, 2014.
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