NORMAN — Ten-year-old Lucy Li sought relief from Tuesday afternoon's hot sun in the shade of a small tree behind the No. 2 tee box at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
Enjoying the shade and snacking on a banana, Li watched Michigan State senior golfer Allyssa Ferrell hit a shot onto the green at the 161-yard par-3 hole.
Then Li walked toward her caddie, traded her banana for a golf club and hit her shot to the front fringe of the green.
At 10 years, eight months and 16 days old, Li, of Redwood Shores, Calif., was the second-youngest player ever to compete in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship when she teed up her first shot Monday morning at Jimmie Austin.
But Li didn't just show up and play. She shot 77 on Monday and 71 on Tuesday to tie for 25th and qualify for the 64-player match play tournament — the youngest player ever to do so.
“I'm really excited,” she said with a giggle after learning she would be around to compete in the match-play bracket on Wednesday. “I wasn't really expecting much (at this tournament). I just wanted to play as well as I could.”
Li started competing in tournaments at age 8, winning the San Diego Junior Masters in 2011 with a round of 5-under-par 67.
Later that year, after turning 9, she became the youngest player to make the cut at the California Women’s State Amateur. Last year, she reached the quarterfinals of the match play at the same event.
While she calls Redwood Shores her home, she and her parents moved to Miami, Fla., in 2011, and since then, Li has been a student at the Jim McLean Golf School at the Doral Golf Resort.
Li’s arms aren’t much bigger than the shaft of her TaylorMade driver, and she’s only a few inches taller than 4 feet. But her smooth, flowing swing, with a long, wraparound follow-through, produced shot after shot that found fairways and greens as her mother and aunt looked on, joyous but reserved.
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