05 August 2018

Li, America;s New Wonder Kid

The United States thrashed Great Britain and Ireland by a record 17-3 scoreline to reclaim the Curtis Cup, in New York. It was the largest margin of victory in the history of the biennial competition, which began in 1932.

Victory in the 39th edition of the women's amateur event certainly has significance for all members of the US team, including Lucy Li, the youngest player on the US team at 15 years of age. For Li, this win was not only a notable achievement but also established her as an American junior sensation. 

The rookie US team player recorded a convincing score of 3-1-0. In the Sunday singles’ session, Li, currently at No. 9 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, beat 21-year old India Clyburn with a convincing score of 5&7 (5 up with seven holes to play). 

The Curtis Cup was Li’s second big success after she made the cut at the US Women's Open a week before. It was Li’s second attempt at the Major event. Li first gained the public’s attention when she qualified for the 2014 US Women's Open at Pinehurst as an 11-year-old.  The extraordinary feat was sadly not followed by success and Li failed to make the cut. Four years later, she’s made it through. 

“I have a lot more experience now,” said Li, as quoted by Golf World, comparing this year’s event to the one four years ago. “I hit the ball farther, so the course doesn’t feel as long. When I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of expectations. I didn’t feel a lot of pressure. Now I feel a lot more experienced. I know what I’m doing more, so I expect more.”

The 15-year-old from the suburbs south of San Francisco came to California from Hong Kong. She has been training at McLean's golf school in Miami since she was seven. According to McLean, as quoted by AP, Li has made the biggest strides with her short game since she arrived, and her consistent ball-striking ability and concentration is rare for a golfer of any age. No wonder then that she’s already begun to make a name for herself.

With so many impressive achievements, it looks like just a matter of time before the high schooler turns professional, following in the footsteps of her senior Alexis Thompson. In 2007, Thompson was the youngest golfer ever to qualify to play in the US Women's Open, turning professional three years later in June 2010 at age 15.


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