Lucy Li, a sixth-grader living in Redwood Shores, is no stranger to success on the golf course.
Li qualified for the match-play portion of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship last year, as well as capturing the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National at the end of March.
Li, however, was thrust into the golfing-world spotlight Monday when she became the youngest player to ever qualify for the Women’s U.S. Open Championship, to be held June 16-22 at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.
Li is 11 years old. Current Ladies Professional Golfer Association (LPGA) member Lexi Thompson qualified for the Women’s U.S. Open as a 12-year-old in 2007.
Li played back-to-back sectional qualifying rounds at Half Moon Bay Golf Links’ Old Course Monday morning and afternoon. In her first round, she posted a 3-over 74 with four bogeys and one birdie.
Three of her four bogeys came on the front nine, when she went out with a 3-over 38. She bogeyed the 11th hole to fall to 4-over, but birdied the 18th to finish with a 74.
In her afternoon round, she turned things around. She had four birdies and just one bogey as she finished with a 3-under 68, giving her a two-round total of even-par 142. Starting her second round on the 10th hole, Li parred the par-5 10th before a birdie on the par-4 11th. She gave the shot back with a bogey on hole No. 12, but she reeled off three pars before going birdie on the fifth hole.
“This is one of the biggest stories in sports in recent memory, in my opinion,” said Mitch Juricich, a longtime golf writer and co-host of KNBR’s “Hooked on Golf.”
“I just think it’s a marvelous accomplishment. The television ratings will be through the roof. If she makes the cut (at the U.S. Open), the whole world will be watching.”
Juricich said making the Women’s U.S. Open is phenomenal enough. The fact she qualified playing the Old Course at Half Moon Bay makes it even more astonishing.
“The best I ever got was a 5 (handicap) and my best round (on the Old Course) was a 75 and that happened when I was in my 20s. I also remember a triple-digit round out there,” Juricich said. “It’s a tough, tough course. The 16th hole, it’s a longish par-4 across a chasm… It’s got to be a very difficult hole for an 11-year-old. … I can’t fathom an 11-year-old doing that. It’s stunning.”
Kathleen Scavo, an amateur from Benicia, finished second with a 7-over 149, while amateur Paige Lee of Folsom was third, with a two-round total of 8-over 150.
They, along with Li, qualified for the Women’s U.S. Open.
A number of other local golfers also tried to qualify for the U.S. Open at Half Moon Bay Golf Links. Aman Sangha, a sophomore at San Mateo High School, shot a 163, while younger sister Kirin Sangha did Aman even better, finishing with a two-round total of 158.
Naomi Lee of Menlo Park, who gained fame for a pair of aces in one round in 2012 as a seventh-grader, finished with a 170, while Sarah Rotter, a sophomore from Cañada College, finished with a two-round total of 178.
Palo Alto was also well represented with Michelle Xie (152), Jayshree Sarathy (164) and Anna Zhou (167). Half Moon Bay’s Carol Gossett finished with a 173, while Portola Valley’s Kathryn Imrie shot a 160.