The moment is iconic – 11-year-old Lucy Li, hair in pigtails, enjoying a pink ice-cream bar while speaking with the media after the first round of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open. Her red-white-and-blue outfit made its way to the USGA Museum after Li, the youngest player ever to qualify for the championship, shot 78-78 on Pinehurst No. 2.
This week in Thailand is somehow hotter and stickier than it was in North Carolina, but Li is again making her presence known. Now 19 years old, Li is playing in the Honda LPGA Thailand on a sponsor’s exemption, sitting tied for ninth after a third-round 64 that was tied for the low round of the day. Her jump into professional play was unfortunately timed with the COVID-19 pandemic, which wreaked havoc with the lofty plans of so many young players.
“I had a pretty tough golf transition. With the first COVID year I played really good, but I just, it was harder because they were giving out less cards,” said Li, who plays full-time on the Epson Tour. “And then last year I struggled quite a bit. You know, I think there is a transition period for everyone and you just have to be patient; eventually it will work out.”
This is Li’s third appearance in an LPGA Tour event as a professional. She tied for 16th at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open and tied for 13th one week later at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, both held near her home in the San Francisco area. If Li can take the win on Sunday, she would be eligible to accept immediate LPGA Tour Membership and become a 2022 rookie.