Tween on the tee: Lucy Li, 11 year-old golf phenom, takes on the U.S. Open

Tween on the tee: Lucy Li, 11 year-old golf phenom, takes on the U.S. Open
Image from the USGA

Lucy Li is a typical tween in many respects. The sixth grader has braces, wears zebra print tops and polka dot skirts, and rocks a mean high pony tail. She lists her interests as painting, swimming, and dancing.

Her golf skills, however, set her apart from every other tween in the world. On Thursday, Li will tee off on Pinehurst No. 2 in the North Carolina for the 69th United States Women’s Open. All eyes will be on her.

She doesn't seem to mind the attention, and she is used to being the youngest.

Last year, she became the youngest qualifier for the United States Women’s Amateur Championship at age 10. Li is also the youngest player to advance to match play at the United States Women’s Amateur Public Links. While Li is certainly the youngest in this year's field, she's not the youngest to ever appear in the U.S. Open. Beverly Klass played at age 10 in 1967.

She is also used to being the best.

In the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship held at Augusta National prior to the Masters, Li won her age division.

Li can hit her driver 230 yards, and a five-iron 170 yards.

Remarkably, she took up the game just four years ago, when she was seven and trying to keep up with her older brother who plays golf.

Li has attracted a ton of media attention and is expected to have a huge gallery following her, but not all the older golfers think her U.S. Open appearance this week is a good idea.

“I'm not a big fan of [her being here] . . . If it was my kid, I wouldn't let her play in the U.S. Open qualifier at 11, but that's just me," said Stacy Lewis, who is currently the top ranked golfer in the world and who's locker in the clubhouse is adjacent to Li's.

Lewis added, "“When I found out she qualified, I said, ‘Well, where does she go from here? What do you do next?’”

When a reporter asked Li the question of what is the next step, Li answered, "The game’s going to take me wherever it’s going to take me, so I really don’t care that much.”

Would you have any reservations about your tween playing in the U.S. Open or other major sporting event? Is it too much, too soon, or a can't miss opportunity?

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