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Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Mighty Lucy: Lucy Li's Very Big Day

Lucy Li.
The sun was still low in the eastern sky above the North Carolina Sandhills when The Mighty Lucy, oblivious to the debate among players and pundits and aficionados that has swirled across the ether for days about the wisdom of allowing an eleven-year old to compete in the grande dame of American women's golf competition that is the US Women's Open, current darling of the press corps, teed off promptly at 7:07am Thursday morning for her first round.

Twitter exploded and the diminutive schoolgirl, decked out for her Open debut in stars and stripes because, as she explained to the press in her post-round interview, it is the US Open, finished her first hole with a double bogey.

Her gallery grew and Lucy played on, unflapped and unfazed, and followed the double with two pars, then a bogey, followed by two more pars, another double and, now predictable, two more pars.  At the turn she was five shots over par.

Lucy Li teeing off on #10 at Pinehurst #2.
Still Lucy played on, collecting two birdies on her second nine, taking charge of course management issues, choosing to chip from off the green (which she did so quite successfully) when any number of other players, including US Open Champion Martin Kaymer, were avoiding chipping onto Pinehurst No. 2's tricky, turtle-backed greens.
. . . during the practice round, I tried putting and hitting a hybrid shot, but chipping is the best for me . . . Lucy explained after her round.
A somewhat flawed bunker shot sent her ball rolling across the #3 green and Lucy put a triple on her card.  But she also recorded birdies and pars and, on the whole, Lucy felt satisfied with her round.  As we all do, she relished the good shots, like her 6-iron shot onto the #1 green -- That was probably one of the best shots of the day -- and as we all should, she took responsibility for the bad shots -- I have to practice my bunker shots -- and Lucy was philosophical about the vagaries of the course:
You miss the ball by three feet and it could be like a two or three shot difference. You could hit it three feet more right and you'd be putting this far away for birdie.  Or you could be in the bunker and struggling for a bogey.
Lucy Li carded a 78 today, as did Cheyenne Woods, They edged out Natalie Gulbis and Jessica Korda by a stroke.

Going into the 2nd round, The Mighty Lucy is trailing Inbee Park by two strokes!  That should quiet the debate about age that Lucy Li's presence has evoked, but if not, Dame Laura Davies' observation could settle the question of age:
If you can qualify, you're old enough . . . or young enough.