Golf: Lucy Lin, the latest in a line of child prodigies

Lucy Lin hits her tee shot on the 4th hole during the first round of the CP Women's Open on Aug 25, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA - Ariya Jutanugarn was 11 when she became the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA Tour event at the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand. At 13, Michelle Wie West was the youngest player to make an LPGA cut at the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Lydia Ko remains the youngest winner in LPGA history when she won the Canadian Women's Open as a 15-year-old.

Lucy Lin aims to follow in her peers' footsteps after the 12-year-old became the youngest player to qualify for the LPGA's CP Women's Open earlier this week. The Canadian shot a three-over par 74 on Thursday (Aug 25), which left her 12 strokes behind first-round leader South Africa's Paula Reto (62).

It was still a decent round for Lin, who could barely contain her excitement as she made her LPGA debut.

"Pretty excited, pretty hyped," she told Golf Channel ahead of her tee-off.

"Really no words to describe it. Feeling is pretty awesome. I didn't know (about being the youngest to qualify) until I finished the (play-off) round and somebody told me.

"Just enjoying the experience and meeting all these great players, and hopefully, getting autographs."

Lin started to play the sport only three years ago, but her development - she was the runner-up at this year's Canadian junior girls championship and also won the NextGen Western Championship - has caught the eye of her fellow golfers, who were not that far off in age when they made their pro debuts.

Compatriot and two-time Major champion Brooke Henderson, who shot a 69 here, said: "It's amazing to see all the young talent coming out and to Monday (to) qualify. I was in a bunch of Monday qualifiers a few years ago and they're tough, a lot of competition. So it's pretty impressive that she was able to get in.

"I played in my first Canadian Open when I was 14, and it was just life-changing. I'm sure this week will be huge for her, and she'll just really enjoy it and be a huge learning experience, which I think is great. Like I said, the talent just keeps getting better and better and younger, and so it's pretty cool."

If Lin makes the cut on Friday, she will beat Ko's record, but regardless of her second-round score, this tournament has already been a valuable learning experience.

"Honestly, I was just trying to hit every shot the best I can. (I) was a bit nervous, but I tried to just stay patient," she told The Toronto Star after her first round.

"I had a rough start, but I had to come back."

Tristan Mullally, the head of national talent identification for Golf Canada, added: "She's a talented young lady, she works really hard, and it's fun to watch her play. She swings it over 100mph (160kmh), she hits it great and she's not going to be out of sorts playing in this kind of event, even though it's a new experience for her."

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