11-year-old Lucy Li makes history at U.S. Women’s Open

Lucy Li, with ruffles and sequins and giggles and pigtails, has stolen the spotlight at the U.S. Women’s Open, which begins today at Pinehurst.

Li is the Redwood Shores, Calif., sixth grader who became the youngest qualifier in the tournament’s history when she shot a 68 and won her sectional by seven shots. The 11-year-old, who has braces on her teeth, isn’t exactly inspiring the killer instinct in her competitors.

“She looks so darn cute,” Michelle Wie, who made her first Women’s Open at the age of 13, told reporters. “I was like, ‘I don’t think I looked that cute when I was 11.’ But she just looks so excited, so wide-eyed … And I’m just really so excited for her to be out. It’s a memory that will last her a lifetime. What other 11-year-old can say that they played in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst? And she got to see the men play, too.”

She arrived on the first tee today in an outfit that is an homage to the American flag — with hearts where some of the stars should be. (Hey, she’s 11.)

Li, who moved to Miami to work with Jim McLean, got serious about golf only four years ago and won her age division in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National this spring. She’s just happy to be playing and that’s delightfully refreshing.

“It’s awesome, right?” she said with a giggle during a press conference earlier this week. “I mean, Pinehurst and Augusta National in like two months. I mean, that’s just amazing. It’s mind-blowing for me. It’s been awesome. The food is great and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve made a lot of friends.”

Click here to follow her progress on the live leader board.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Matt Bonesteel · June 19

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