This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Is 11 Years Old Too Young to Play in the Women’s

U.S. Open? No

We sure do like to pretend we can see into the future.

So we’ve held back Heismans from

freshmen, all-star game appearances from rookies and MVPs from players who haven’t properly paid their dues— whatever that means. Don’t worry, you’ll be back, we

assure them. They will, eh? We cheerlead for collegiate stars

to stay in school, and then shrug our shoulders when USC quarterback Matt Barkley costs himself $10 million by returning for his senior year. That communications degree will

cover the difference, right? The Washington Nationals pulled out their injury crystal ball and pre- maturely shut down their ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg in 2012 during a pen- nant race, despite having the best record in baseball. They lost in the fi rst round, then fi nished 10 games behind the At- lanta Braves in 2013. Who knows when the Nationals will have another crack at a title? We love to hand out future success,

but it rarely works out that way. A 19-year-old Sergio Garcia would

have made the All-Assumption Team in 1999. And yet he still hasn’t won a major. Tiger Woods had Jack Nicklaus’ major record dead to rights in 2008. Now it’s a 50-50 proposition whether Woods can even get to No. 15. There are no sure things in life—and that is especially true in golf. How many times have you woke up

after a great round and your game is sud- denly trapped in your mattress? Or you showed up to the range with an inexpli-

18 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2014

cable case of the shanks? Or an incurable duck hook? How many times do you see a pro

fi re a career low, and then shoot 10 strokes higher the next day? It’s pretty much the rule, not the exception. Lucy Li qualifying for the U.S. Open should be universally celebrated. What an insane and unfathomable accomplish- ment for an 11-year-old, to qualify for our national championship. Did I mention that she qualifi ed? This wasn’t some publicity stunt

exemption. She didn’t turn pro. She didn’t announce a globe- trotting circus act. Li qualifi ed for one

tournament—the most prestigious championship in women’s golf. And Li didn’t just sneak in as an

alternate through a serendipitous series of circumstances, calling into question her playing credentials. Li won her 88-player sectional

qualifi er by seven strokes. Sounds pretty darn legit. Li is the U.S. Open ideal—

the personifi cation of the fantasy that anyone can play for our national championship. All you’ve got to do is post the scores. There’s no prejudice or bias. It’s the most democratic tournament in golf. So I was disappointed and

discouraged that Li’s incred- ible story was immediately dangled as click-bait for web- sites, and lowest-common-de- nominator talking head fodder. Somehow an 11-year-old

accomplishing something the rest of us could only hope to achieve by rubbing a magic lamp was a referendum on parenting, raising unfair questions about exploitation. But it’s funny, despite the national stories

splashed across the nightly news, and the golf media circling in for exclusive quotes, we never heard a peep from Li or her family until the week of the tournament. So much for the attention-craving

child-star angle. Li was as bubbly and precious as you

can imagine when she was scheduled for a pre-tournament press conference, an in- stant sweetheart who was genuinely excited to be playing alongside her favorite players. When asked whose idea it was to attempt to qualify, Li quelled any helicop- ter parent fears by saying, “It was mine. I didn’t care if I qualifi ed or not. I just wanted the experience.” There were no delusions of grandeur.

She was listed as a 1,000-1 long shot, and she never voiced a desire to contend or win. Best-case scenario? She played lights out and makes the cut. Worst-case scenario? Laura Davies summed it up best. “What’s the worst that can happen?” Davies said.

“She shoots a million this week and everyone says, ‘Wasn’t it great she was here?’ So I don’t think anything bad can come out of it, because she’s too

young to worry about the pres- sure. I imagine she wouldn’t have any pressure on her because she’s just having fun. She’s off from school. It’s perfect.” How cool would it be to share a locker room with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, or Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko, or your favorite football, basket- ball or baseball players? How could that not be the best week ever? And we’re

Lucy Li

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76