Teen Sensation Li to Miss Inaugural Women’s Event at Augusta
Yes, the next teen sensation is ready to come out of her “amazing things for such a young golfer” phase that alerted us to her great potential, and start realizing it. There are other high-profile wunderkinds as well, and they will all have their time in the limelight, but Lucy Li might feel a little extra bad about this week’s bump in the road. The event of events for female amateurs has been set up on a course known as a male bastion for many decades, Augusta National. National Women’s Amateur is being promoted beautifully, complete with a group of great players leading it off, just in time for Li, who is in the process of becoming a young adult. It all comes down to a thumb injury incurred while bracing herself in a fall. Such injuries seem so small, but are so incapacitating for a golfer, and can so easily happen to anyone.
Li has amassed quite a few firsts in her young golf career. Among others is qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open – as a sixth-grader. Lexi Thompson did the same thing, but Li beat her record of twelve years, four months and eighteen days. She didn’t just qualify for the big one, but won her qualifying heat by seven strokes. Born in Stanford, California, Li also won the Masters Drive, Chip and Putt Competition for the ten-to-eleven age division. That victory didn’t come out of a pool of a few hand-selected prodigies. It began as a 10,000 player field. She worked her handicap down to a 1.5 before high school, making her eligible for all the goodies she intends to win in future years. In 2016, she won the Junior PGA Championship, and in the same year played on the Junior Ryder Cup team. Li played a similar stint on the Junior Solheim team and for the Curtis Cup, emerging a winner in all three events. This is not to mention a victory at the International Rolex Tournament of Champions. With all of this, Li has a life outside of golf, and is apparently talented as a diver, gymnast, and musician.
More often than not, players of such stature take an interest in the game early on, and Li was no exception. Soon, it became clear that she should be reinforced with the best coaching assistance available. That brings Jim Mclean into the picture,. The high-profile, high-results coach has worked with Lexi Thompson, Christie Kerr, Erik Compton and Keegan Bradley, among others.
Along the way, Li has wandered into her share of controversy, beside that of colleagues doing a double take to see a girl of twelve in a major championship. She recently appeared in an Apple watch ad, sporting attire created by Nike. The ensuing flap drew questions surrounding her amateur status, and she ran the risk of missing out on an entire chunk of her early career. Her parents avowed that no compensation had been received for the ad, but the story was conflated with a similar account regarding Tony Romo, former quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Critics claim that Romo was let off the hook because he was famous in another sport that had provided his fortune to date. For Li, the same critics claimed that her full amateur rights were restored because she was popular, cute, and likable, along with playing an alarmingly good game of golf.
These things, as most snafus do, shall pass. There are too many exciting things coming in the near future for an argument like this to survive. It is reasonable to predict that the event to be held at Augusta will succeed brilliantly, and return for an encore. In the absence of thumb injuries, Lucy Li will be there, and so will we.