PINEHURST (AFP) - Lucy Li, an 11 year-old who won a skills event at Augusta National in April, fired an eight-over-par 78 on Thursday in a historic US Women's Open first round.
Li, the youngest qualifier in US Women's Open history at age 10, was proudly holding an ice cream cone in her left hand while answering questions about her round on a hot day at formidable Pinehurst.
"Getting to play in the US Open was a lot of fun. I kind of struggled today, but it was great," Li said.
"I'm happy with how I played. It's 8-over, it's not bad. But I was 7-over in three holes, so that's 1-over in 15 holes. So, I just need to get rid of the big numbers." Li won the 10-11 age group title at the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship three months ago at Augusta National on the eve of the start of Masters practice.
Li, whose family is from Hong Kong, wore a red, white and blue outfit for her round as she faced the turtle-backed greens of Pinehurst, which hosted the US Open last week with German Martin Kaymer taking the title in the first half of a historic back-to-back majors twin bill.
"I learned a lot," Li said. "I learned that you've got to be patient. One shot at a time. Try to get rid of the big numbers."
"Even the shortest holes, if you're not in the right place, you can get double (bogey), easily." Li began on the back nine and opened with a double bogey at the par-5 10th. She made bogey at 13 and a double bogey at 16, but made her first birdie at the first hole and answered a triple-bogey at the third with a birdie at the par-5 fifth before closing with bogeys at seven and nine.
"I was so happy about my round because after I got doubles and triples, I was able to get it back," Li said. "I made a good stretch of holes after the double on the first hole. And after the triple, I birdied number five and got a lot of pars after that."
"It was kind of tough, but I was able to hang in and the score was OK." Li did not have a score in mind when she teed off, concerned more about performance than results.
"I was just trying to have fun, go out and play my best, whatever that was," she said. "I'm happy I broke 80, because I got two doubles and a triple and that can really ruin a score. But I'm glad I got it back after that."
When asked what she planned to do for the rest of the day she said: "Eat some more ice cream. It's good. It's melting, though."