The U.S. Women’s Open will start on Thursday at Pinehurst with 22 teenagers in the 156-woman field.
Lexi Thompson is 19 years old and has been a member of the LPGA since 2012. She has four wins on the LPGA Tour, including her first major championship win at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year.
Lydia Ko turned professional in October 2013, but she is not your average LPGA Tour rookie. She won two LPGA Tour events while still an amateur and won the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic just three days after her 17th birthday in April.
Ko is ranked No. 3 in the world behind only Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park. She has hired Jim Furyk’s caddie, Mike “Fluff” Cowan, to help her navigate the perils of Pinehurst this week.
The third teenager to earn an automatic bid into the U.S. Women’s Open is 2013 LPGA Rookie of the Year Moriya Jutanugarn.
She has not had a strong start in 2014 and will be looking to turn her season around. Jutanugarn has six missed cuts in 14 starts this year and has yet to post a top-10 finish.
The rest of the 19 teenagers had to earn their spots in the U.S. Women’s Open the old-fashioned way. They had to qualify in sectional qualifiers around the world.
The most notable youngster who will tee it up at Pinehurst this week is Minjee Lee from Australia. She is 18 years old and is the No. 1 women’s amateur player in the world. Lee has some experience in USGA events. She won the 2012 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship.
In February, she won the Oates Victorian Open on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour, and she won consecutive Australian Women’s Amateur Championships in 2013 and 2014.
The field even has one young lady who will not become a teenager for two more years. Lucy Li, 11, of California, became the youngest person to ever qualify for a U.S. Women’s Open.
Among all of this youth, former U.S. Women’s Open champion Dame Laura Davies is the oldest qualifier in the field. At 50, she is old enough to be some of these girls’ grandmother.
Davies has 45 Ladies European Tour career wins and 20 LPGA Tour wins, including four major titles. Davies is a past USGA champion, as she won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open.
The field at Pinehurst this week will have a youthful tone given the amount of young talent under the age of 20.
The women’s game is filled with young ladies ready to challenge established veterans for major championship titles and the rewards that go along with it.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials provided by the USGA, the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour or the PGA of America.