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Jeff Gravley

A walk with Lucy Li at her welcoming party

Posted June 20
Updated June 21

There are lime green lanyards distributed by the USGA that give you access inside the ropes here at the U.S. Open. This week I have one for women's play, and today I used my golfing hall pass to follow 11-year-old Lucy Li for a few holes.

I can't tell you how impressed I am with her game and how she has handled herself outside the ropes.

Her first drive of the day ended up in the "stuff" off the fairway at hole No. 1. She pulled her second shot and hit her third shot short. Li left the first hole Friday with a double-bogey.

She arrived at the short par-4 third hole where some of the players were trying to drive the 229-yard target. Lucy decided to hit an iron off the tee, and her ball landed right on her pegged distance – just in front of a large bunker. The second shot was simply incredible – hitting within  four feet. Li tapped in for a fist-clinching birdie.

During my walk, I noticed USGA president Tom O'Toole following along. I asked, "How neat is this?" Amazing was part of his answer.

He went on to tell me how he walked up to Li earlier in the week and said, "Hi Lucy, I'm Tom O'Toole president of the USGA."

Li replied, "I know who you are, sir. I met you at a junior golf event last year."

As I followed Li down the fairways, I couldn't help but notice the stares from the young girls in the gallery and the smiles on the faces of the adults as she passed by.

Li didn't make the cut in her first U.S. Open, but she did make a lasting impression after back-to-back 78s. She beat out 26 other competitors and recorded the same score as Natalie Gulbis.

I made sure that I was on the 18th tee box to watch her final hole of competition. I wasn't alone. Sitting in a golf cart was Peggy Kirk Bell, one of the great pioneers of women's golf. The 92-year old owner of Pine Needles wanted to see Miss Lucy in person. She saw Li out-drive her two playing partners, hit the green in regulation and two-putt for par.

That's U.S. Open golf, and this year's tournament introduced us to Lucy Li.

After her opening round on Thursday, she brought and ate a pink ice cream pop during her press conference. The summer heat melted the ice cream like Li melted hearts here at Pinehurst.

Some said she was too young to play in the Open. "Where does she go from here?" asked the tour's top-ranked player, Stacy Lewis.

My guess is she's going to the ice cream store.

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  • Leave it to Beaver Reruns Jun 20, 11:13 p.m.

    Simply amazing. I still can't believe that an 11 year old girl just broke 80 twice in a US Open at Pinehurst #2. In my opinion, she is the story of the year in sports. Great article, sir.

  • Leave it to Beaver Reruns Jun 20, 11:19 p.m.

    And honestly, it doesn't matter where she goes from here. Lucy played in a US Open. Golf fans like us can only dream that we did.

  • GunnyGoesBaaaarf Jun 21, 6:25 a.m.

    "Where does she go from here?" Anywhere she chooses, because not only is little Lucy already an amazing athlete, she has a personality as bright as her future, grace and maturity well beyond her years, and has captivated anyone who has seen her play or watch her being interviewed while eating a pink ice cream pop. Forget being on a box of "Wheaties", her little face should grace cartons of Baskin and Robbins!

  • Toddler10-21 Jun 21, 7:00 a.m.

    Great young lady. Enjoy watching kids playing sports and not complaing about its either too hot, or too cold. No video games for her this weekend. IMO they destroy kids if the parents allow too much. Heck I hated when the street lights came on. Again Amazing young lady!

  • HomeBrewDude Jun 21, 9:29 a.m.

    This girl is amazing. I admit that I am not a huge golf fan but can certainly appreciate the level of dedication this girl has. She is obviously not the typical 11 year old texting away all day...

  • jmcdow2792 Jun 21, 12:37 p.m.

    This is a great story. We will see her again.

  • vt94hokies Jun 21, 1:24 p.m.

    Totally enjoyed watching this pretty little phenom. She is well beyond her years with intellect, skills, and her personality is off the charts. She certainly has a bright future. She was definitely the darling of the US Open.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
 
4th
CHI 90
NYK 89
 
4th
HOU 70
NOP 68
 
1st
SAC 20
MIL 12
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
Final
SDKST 75
IDST 72
 
Final
RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
Final
LATU 79
NICST 54
 
Final
CHAR 75
APP 65
 
Final
MISS 71
CCAR 68
 
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
 
Final
BRAD 80
EUREK 38
 
Final
PEAY 76
OAKC 52
 
Final
JST 66
SMISS 46
 
2nd
SD 55
MNTST 53
 
2nd
UAB 51
LSU 58
 
2nd
EVAN 46
OHIO 50
 
1st
CSFU 5
CSDH 4
 
1st
ORST 20
DEP 8
 
1st
PAC 10
NEV 7
 
1st
USF 15
PORST 11
 
1st
IDAHO 11
WALLA 19
 
1st
UTST 0
CALST 3
 
Final
PIT 1
COL 0
Final
PHI 1
FLA 2
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
CLB 4
WAS 5
3rd
MON 1
ANA 1
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
3rd
JAC 14
TEN 10