US Women's Open

Eleven-year-old from Hong Kong family is youngest ever qualifier for US Women's Open

Lucy Li shoots a 68 to book ticket to Pinehurst next month - and wants to play for HK

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 2014, 10:38am

Precocious talent Lucy Li, the youngest player to qualify for the US Women’s Open at 11 years of age, wants to play for Hong Kong.

Li won the sectional qualifier at Half Moon Bay in California on Monday and will surpass American Lexi Thompson as the youngest competitor in a US Women’s Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina on June 19.

“I can’t believe it,” said Hong Kong national team coach Brad Schadewitz. “She’s crushing records left, right and centre.”

Li, who plays off a plus-2 handicap, shot rounds of 74 and 68 on the par-72 course in the qualifier and won by a staggering seven shots.

Li was born in Santa Clara and lives in Redwood Shores, California, and holds a US passport, but her mother has a Hong Kong identity card and the family has told Schadewitz she wants to play for Hong Kong.

“We also want her to play for Hong Kong, but she needs to be a permanent resident,” Schadewitz said.

The Hong Kong Golf Association is in the process of talking to her mother, Amy Zeng, about the family’s status.

Li won a junior event in Hong Kong in 2011 while visiting her grandfather and Schadewitz says she has that X factor that sets prodigies apart.

“Her swing is good, but you don’t get to that level without a swing. That’s not the intangible. It’s something else, something you can’t quantify. It’s innate.”

Li shot to fame last month when she became one of the first female champions at Augusta National, until recently the all-male bastion of American golf.

She and three other prodigies with family backgrounds in Hong Kong and mainland China won the first four titles in an inaugural drive, chip and putt competition for youngsters at Augusta, the home of the Masters, which only admitted its first women members 20 months ago. Li won the 10-11 girls’ division

Li has won a host of junior titles in the US, but last year became the youngest ever to qualify for the US Women’s Amateur event and also the

US Women’s Public Links, where she went on to make the event’s match-play competition.

Thompson was 12 when she qualified for the 2007 Women’s Open.