Who could forget young Lucy Li? The pint-sized player who stole headlines at Pinehurst No. 2 when she competed in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at age 11 and ate ice cream during an interview.
Now Li, 14, will make her debut at another LPGA major when she competes this week at the ANA Inspiration.
Li, who’s in the class of 2020, closed with an even-par 72 to win the revamped ANA Junior Inspiration and earn an exemption into the main event. The final round took place on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, where the LPGA will compete March 30-April 2.
“I’m just so excited right now and I can’t wait to play next week,” Li said. “The greens here are so pure and the rough is really thick. I had a lot of fun playing here. I want to thank all the LPGA legends for playing with us this week. I had so much fun with Pat Bradley. She made it so enjoyable and relaxing and I learned a lot from her.”
The first two rounds were held on the Pete Dye Challenge Course at Mission Hills Country Club. Li was the only player in the field who finished under par after 54 holes at 3 under. Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, Emilia Migliaccio and Rachel Heck placed second, four strokes back.
Li, of Redwood Shores Calif., advanced to the Round of 32 at last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur and won the 2016 Junior PGA Championship.
“For a 14 year old, she is so impressive. She drives the ball well and she putted well too. She is very talented and she has a huge future,” said Bradley, who was one of 20 LPGA legends who played alongside the juniors for the final round of the event. “She’s very consistent and you need that to be successful. She got in a little trouble today, but it did not faze her and I was impressed.”
Li is joined by fellow amateurs Katelyn Dambaugh (USA), Andrea Lee (USA), Hannah O’Sullivan (USA), Eun-Jeong Seong (South Korea) and Paphangkorn Tavatanakit (Thailand). Amateur Albane Valenzuela withdrew from the ANA Inspiration on Sunday.