For the third straight year, Redwood Shores’ Lucy Li was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur champions at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Mississippi Friday morning.
Li lost to eventual champion Kristen Gillman in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
After surviving two rounds of stroke play and qualifying by the skin of her teeth, Li got on a roll once the tournament entered the match play portion, winning three consecutive matches to move into the quarterfinals.
But Li ran into a buzzsaw in Hermosa Beach’s Andrea Lee, the No. 2-ranked amateur player in the world. The 20-year-old Lee smoked the fourth-ranked Li, 6 and 5.
Lee, a rising senior at Stanford who teamed with Li to win a four-ball match at last year’s Curtis Cup, put the pressure on the 16-year-old immediately, winning two of the first three holes to take a quick 2-up lead.
Then Lee, who was coming off a 23-hole win in the round-of-32, got hot. Starting at No. 6, Lee one-putted six straight holes — knocking down birdies on Nos. 9, 10 and 11 — to take a massive 6-up lead.
Li stayed alive by winning the par-3 12th with a 12-foot birdie, but Lee finished her off with a two-putt par to win No. 13 to advance to the semifinals.
“The putter just kind of felt hot today and I was just rolling them nicely,” Lee told David Shefter of USGA.org after the round.
Joining Lee in the semifinals is Stanford teammate Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland.
Li’s quarterfinal loss ended a run of good golf. She qualified for the match play after finishing in a tie for 54th play after two rounds of stroke play — landing right on the cut line.
But she righted the ship in the round-of-64, easily taking down Morgan Baxendale, 5 and 4. She equaled that score in the round-of-32, beating Amanda Doherty. Li won the first two holes, but Doherty got one back at No. 3. Li regained her two-hole lead with a birdie of the par-3 7th, went 3-up with a birdie on the par-5 10th before adding birdies on No. 12 and No. 14 to give her six birdies against zero bogeys.
In the round-of-16, she was pushed by Thailand’s Pinnipa Panthong, eventually pulling out a 2 and 1 decision to move on to face Lee. Li was 1-down after eight holes, but back-to-back birdies on the par-5 9th and 10th gave her a 1-up lead. A Panthong birdie on 11 tied the score and her par on the 13th gave Panthong a 1-up advantage.
Li, however, tied the match with a birdie on 14 and took a 1-up lead with a birdie on No. 15 before closing out Panthong with a birdie on No. 17 — giving Li five birdies over her final nine holes.
“My putting has been getting a lot better,” Li told USGA.org’s Shefter. “These greens are a little tricky for me, but I started rolling it a lot better.”
The semifinal matches are Saturday morning, followed by the championship match Sunday morning.