Hailing from the suburbs of San Francisco, Calif., Lucy Li made waves last month when she qualified for the U.S. Open golf tournament, which starts on June 19.
The 11-year-old prodigy will play alongside and against some of the biggest names in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Many of them have lived three or even five times longer than her, such as Laura Davies (50) and Stacy Lewis (29).
Before you start watching the young golf star play on Thursday, here are some important and lesser-known facts about Lucy Li that you need to know:
- She is not the youngest person ever to compete in the U.S. Women's Open:
Li may be the youngest qualifier, but she isn’t the youngest-ever competitor for the U.S. Women’s Open event.
“That distinction belongs to Beverly Klass, who played in the 1967 Open at 10 years, 7 months, 21 days old, when qualification was not required. Sectional qualifying for United States Golf Association championships started in 1976,” states The New York Times.
- Her family enjoys sports:
Li lives in Redwood Shores, Calif. While her father Warren Li is a San Francisco Bay Area computer consultant, she gets her “sports genes” from her mother, Amy Zeng Li, who is a former table tennis player.
Her brother Luke, who now studies at Princeton University, played golf competitively. In fact, he was Lucy’s source of inspiration to pursue the sport as a career.
- She didn’t plan to play golf:
Li’s mother wanted her daughter to join ballet, music and aerobics. But the little girl had her heart set on golf.
Her brother, as we mentioned above, inspired her.
“She started to like golf, and then all she wanted to do was golf,” said Jim McLean, 1994 PGA National Teacher of the Year and Li’s coach.
“It didn’t come that easy for her. She worked,” he said.
- She might play for Hong Kong:
Although Li was born in the United States, her mother holds a Hong Kong identity card and she could play for H.K.
“We also want her to play for Hong Kong, but she needs to be a permanent resident,” said Hong Kong national team coach Brad Schadewitz, according to South China Morning Post.
The Hong Kong Golf Association is in the process of talking to her mother Amy Zeng about the family’s status, the newspaper reported.
- She enjoys school:
Li isn’t just into sports, she enjoys school as well.
The 11-year-old is homeschooled through an online Stanford University program and loves to study English, science and mathematics.
- She has interests other than golf:
When she is not whacking golf balls, Li will read Archie comics and educational books.
She loves watching Disney movies and assembling IKEA furniture and floor lamps for her mother.
Li also enjoys arts and crafts, especially making necklaces and bracelets.
- She has these cute blinged-out clubs for the tournament:
For the big sporting event starting this week, Li has got herself these superb custom-made golf clubs which would reportedly cost more than $1,000.