Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

U.S. Women's Open: 11-year-old Lucy Li misses cut

June 21, 2014 -- Updated 1931 GMT (0331 HKT)
Lucy Li, the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, finished her first round with an eight-over-par 78, at Pinehurst on Thursday. Lucy Li, the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, finished her first round with an eight-over-par 78, at Pinehurst on Thursday.
Golf's prodigies: Lucy Li
Golf's prodigies: Lucy Li
Golf's prodigies: Lucy Li
Golf's prodigies: Lucy Li
Golf's prodigies: Lucy Li
Golf's prodigies: Lucy Li
Golf's prodigies: Lydia Ko
Golf's prodigies: Lydia Ko
Golf's prodigies: Ryo Ishikawa
Golf's prodigies: Guan Tianlang
Golf's prodigies: Alexis Thompson
  • Lucy Li, 11, becomes the youngest qualifier to play in U.S. Women's Open history
  • Li records opening eight-over-par 78, after two double-bogeys and a triple-bogey
  • American misses the halfway cut after carding another 78 on Friday
  • Former child prodigy Michelle Wie takes three-shot lead at halfway stage

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- She's got nerves of steel, golf talent beyond her tender years, and a precocious flair for eye-catching fashion: 11-year-old Lucy Li, the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women's Open history, looked entirely at home as she teed-off at Pinehurst No. 2.

Despite a three bad holes in North Carolina, which meant she finished her round with an eight-over-par 78, Li impressed onlookers with a composed round that saw her bounce back quickly from disappointing shots.

She left the course smiling, having followed up two double-bogeys and a triple-bogey with assured play -- including birdies at the first and fifth.

"It was great," Li told reporters Thursday. "What I was so happy about in my round, (was that) after I got doubles and triples, I was able to get it back. And I got a lot of pars after that."

Heading into the tournament, Li said her only ambition was to "have fun and play the best I can."

11-year-old golfer makes history
A history of golf at Pinehurst
Improving your short game
The rise of golf's child stars

But the California native can also count growing experience in her time at Pinehurst, not least how to deal with the perilous course -- which hosted the men's U.S. Open last week.

"It's tough," said Li. "You miss the ball by three feet and it could be like a two- or three-shot difference.

"You could hit it three feet more right and you'd be putting this far away for birdie. Or you could be in the bunker and struggling for a bogey."

Tour pros had raised doubts about whether the child amateur -- still wearing braces and standing on a box to address the media after her opening round -- should be subjected to the pressure and expectation of such a big professional event.

"When I found out she qualified, I said, 'Well, where does she go from here? You qualify for an Open at 11, what do you do next?' " asked world No. 1 Stacy Lewis on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old added: "If it was my kid, I wouldn't let her play in the U.S. Open qualifier at 11, but that's just me."

Pressure seemed to be the least of Li's worries as she chatted with the older members of her playing group and feasted on an ice cream during the post-round press conference.

"She is so mature for her age," said 23-year-old Jessica Wallace, who played with Li and Catherine O'Donnell -- the latter also shot 78.

"There were times when I felt more immature than she is. Catherine and I had fun talking to her. She's so mature, it's like talking to another 23-year-old."

Li became officially the youngest player to qualify after securing her place at an event at Half Moon Bay Golf Club near her home in California.

She beats fellow American Lexi Thompson, who qualified for the 2007 Open aged 12, to become the youngest qualifier.

But Li is not the youngest to compete at the tournament -- Beverley Klass competed in 1967, without having to qualify, aged just 10.

While Canadian Wallace carded 74 to be on course to make the halfway cut, seven shots behind first-round leader Lewis, Li and O'Donnell were outside the projected top-60 ahead of their second rounds Friday.

And there wasn't a fairytale end for Li -- she missed the weekend rounds after carding another 78 on Friday, laced with more highs and lows as she tied for 120th in the 154-player field.

"I'm really happy with how I bounced back from the big numbers," said Li, who again had to stand on a box to reach the microphone at her press conference Friday.

"Just be patient and not care about what happened, just go to the next shot and hit it like nothing, like it's the first shot."

Her caddy Bryan Bush added: "She proved that she deserved to be here. Her play spoke for itself.

"It was never about score," he said. "She was here for the experience and the opportunity to play with the best players in the world. She proved that she can."

The weekend attention switched from one child prodigy to a former one, as Michelle Wie claimed a three-shot lead from Thompson.

The 24-year-old Wie also came to prominence at a young age but is still seeking her first major title.

She birdied the last two holes to move clear of 19-year-old Thompson, who at 16 was the youngest winner of an LPGA event until that record was taken by Lydia Ko in 2012.

New Zealand's Ko, now 17, fired 71 to move up the leaderboard and make the cut, being tied for 29th.

World No. 1 Stacy Lewis dropped from the opening-round lead to a tie for third after a 73 which left the American four shots behind compatriot Wie.

Part of complete coverage on
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1424 GMT (2224 HKT)
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
The next generation of golfers just keeps on getting younger. "They have the confidence to perform against their idols," says one ex-prodigy.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
He was Spain's ultimate matador and golf's greatest escape artist.
June 18, 2014 -- Updated 1536 GMT (2336 HKT)
Rory McIlroy has announced he wants to represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Two-time major champion Rory McIlroy declares he'll represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics, not Great Britain.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0248 GMT (1048 HKT)
Already admired by Annika Sorenstam and with a bucketful of talent, New Zealand's Lydia Ko has the world of golf at her feet.
April 28, 2014 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
Mike O'Connor, UK FootGolf
Like footie? Partial to a bit of golf? Then you'll love FootGolf. The sport's growing fan base includes a host of former English Premier League stars.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
Golfers at at Barkway Park don't seem to concerned and have been taking pictures and videos of the bird when it appears on the greens and fairways.
A runaway ostrich-like bird hiding near an English golf course has caused quite a stir. Some say it's dangerous, while others are cashing in.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Eagles may be thin on the ground for most golfers at the Bear Trace course at Harrison Bay. But up in the treetops, it's a different matter.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.