She didn't need to go out and contend for the 2014 U.S. Women's Open title over the weekend for 11-year-old Lucy Li to impress the masses at Pinehurst No. 2. Simply showing up to play was remarkable for the youngest qualifier in the tournament's history, and she followed it up with two rounds of 78 on Thursday and Friday.
But, unfortunately for Li, it wasn't enough to continue playing on Saturday and Sunday. Her score of 16-over par through two rounds was over the cut line, per USA Today:
She may not be continuing her history-making tournament appearance, but let's not forget here, she's 11. Despite that, she's been competing with the best in women's golf on a course that sent even the best men's golfers through a loop in recent weeks.
To recap, Martin Kaymer's runaway victory at the U.S. Open was one of the only scores in the tournament that was below par. Shooting a 78 on the course wasn't foreign for some notable men's golfers who were struggling over the U.S. Open.
Li made four birdies throughout her two rounds—two on Thursday, and two on Friday. She finished 19 of her 36 holes with a score of par.
Not too shabby for an 11-year-old.
In fact, after her first round, she was neck-and-neck with one of the elite women's golfers, per ESPN Stats & Information:
11-year-old Lucy Li shot 78 in 1st round of U.S. Women's Open, matching the score of No. 4 player in the world Suzann Pettersen— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 20, 2014
A score of 16 over par doesn't do Li's weekend justice. Without a triple bogey on both days, that score comes down to just 10-over, which would have put her just outside the cut line.
The performance was simply remarkable given Li's young age, per Golf Digest's Ron Sirak:
An 11-year-old shooting 78-78 on a @usopengolf set-up is remarkable. Let's hope those around Lucy Li move forward wisely.— Ron Sirak (@ronsirak) June 20, 2014
But as amazing as it is to consider Li's talent at such a young age, the biggest question is how she develops over the years.
A golfer competing at this young of an age hasn't been seen before. If Li continues making the ascension, it won't be long before she's actually competing for these majors. Who knows—a couple of years of this quality of play under her belt, and she could be Michelle Wie's biggest competition in no time.
The bright lights of perhaps the biggest stage in women's golf didn't scare off Li. She emerged as one of the most interesting stories at the U.S. Women's Open over the weekend and shone in the spotlight with a performance for the ages.
Tiger Woods had been in front of the TV cameras for quite some time before he ever won a major, with the first coming at the 1997 Masters as a 21-year-old. But long before that, he was competing in the major circuit and drawing plenty of attention.
If Li can qualify for the U.S. Women's Open at just 11 years old and stay below a round of 80 on one of the world's toughest golf courses, there's no telling what she will be able to do in the coming years. This is sure to be the first of many times her young age takes the headlines in competing for major championship trophies.