Haters Gonna Hate
Part of the beauty of both the men’s and women’s United States Opens are that anyone with a low enough handicap can try to qualify for their gender’s championship. It is, by definition, the most democratic golf tournament in the world. You don’t need status on a tour to make the field, but it certainly helps. While you need a low handicap to enter, there is no restriction on age noted on the entry form. And why should there be? If you can play, you can play, and your age, race, net worth, or any other characteristic you can think of means jack shit.
Yet when 11 year old Lucy Li made history by becoming the youngest person to ever make it through qualifying for the Women’s U.S. Open, much of the golf world roared with outrage. Know-nothings spouted off about how a child that young should not be allowed to play in a tournament of such magnitude. One of the most vocal against Lu’s plight to play was top ranked female Stacy Lewis.
Because Lewis is the top ranked player in the ladies game today she sat down for a pre-tournament press conference earlier this week. Lewis said if Lucy was her child she wouldn’t let her attempt to qualify. Lewis really didn’t give a reason as to why, but questioned that after an 11 year old makes it to such a big event, where do they go from there? What a totally ignorant and asinine way to think.
Above you see Morgan Pressell and Lexi Thompson. Both of them played in the U.S. Open at the age of 12 and both are major champions and super stars on the LPGA Tour now. They are exhibits A and B as to why Lewis’ point is absolutely retarded. If Lewis had said that players under 16 shouldn’t be allowed to be members of the LPGA, then yes, I’d agree with her. That’s too young to take on that kind of pressure, travel, etc. week after week. But for a player of Li’s age to qualify for and play in one event with the pros, there is nothing but upside to that in my opinion. It is obviously a great experience for the player and pays dividends down the road, but it also increases the amount of eyeballs paying attention to the ladies than they would typically get for that one week.
You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream
Lucy Li arrived at Pinehurst a week early just so she could watch the men she idolizes play on the course she’ll be playing this week. By all accounts, watching the guys was quite a thrill for her. Then because of her age and her pending appearance in the Open, she too got a chance to talk to the golf journos before the championship began. Lucy charmed the room in the way only an awkward 11 year old girl in braces could. The highlight was her cackling madly after the press asked if her dad can beat her.
On Thursday Li went out and made two doubles, a triple, and a few birdies to total a 78. She’s currently tied for 111th place. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. And look, she’s also beating and/or tied with Suzanne Petterson, Cheyenne Woods, and Natalie Gulbis. So yeah, I’d say she belongs. Stories like hers are what U.S. Opens are all about, at least until the cut is made. And what did Miss Li want to do after her 78 on Thursday? Nothing special, just eat some ice cream. It is good to be a kid.