NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An 11-year-old golf phenom has made history as she has come out swinging at the U.S. Women’s Open.
As CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, Lucy Li is the youngest ever to qualify for the golf tournament. But not everyone has welcomed her with open arms.
Li, a sixth grader, is adorable with her sparkly shirt and her hair pulled up in pigtails. And her future in golf seems as bright of her smile.
“I try not to think about it – I’m just another player,” Li said. “I just want to go out there and have fun and play the best I can, and I don’t care about the outcome. Just, I want to have fun.”
On Thursday, Li competed with the big girls, playing her first round at Pinehurst No. 2. But top-ranked Stacy Lewis said Li is just too young to play in the tournament.
“You qualify for an Open at 11, what do you do next?” Lewis said. “If it was my kid, I wouldn’t let her play an Open qualifier at 11, but that’s just me.”
And while Li is good enough to play, is playing good for her at just 11 years old?
“If this is something she’s dreamed of doing, if she’s supported emotionally and with her family, I think it’s absolutely fine,” said Ariel Sebag of the Upper East Side.
“I do think it’s too young to play with the pros,” said Lorraine Lester.
“I believe from a clinical standpoint, it is too young. It’s a lot of stress to play in the pro leagues like this, and it may be too much too soon,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gardere.
But Gardere said if Li keeps her perspective, she will likely fare well.
“She has the right idea. She says it’s just a lot of fun,” he said. “If it stays fun, it stays healthy.”
It is all about fun for some young aspiring golfers practicing their swings at Chelsea Piers. Li is an inspiration for the youngsters.
“She’s in a big name, but she’s pretty impressive for an 11-year-old,” said Sarah Blbuert, 7, who just started playing this week.
When asked if he could handle the pressure of pro-golf, Finn Stewart, 8 – who has been playing four years and wants to go pro – said “maybe.”
It certainly seems Li can handle the pressure, as she appeared decked out in red, white and blue with Popsicle in hand to reflect on her first round as a pro.
“I’m happy I broke 80, because you know, I got two doubles and a triple, and that can really ruin a score,” she said.
Li finished the round Thursday at eight over par. She is currently tied for 131st place.
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