Are Children Taking Over the Sports World?

Look at all the young athletes who are breaking records in their sports, turning pro at such young ages, and making a mark for themselves even against the best pros in the world. It’s astonishing. The LPGA is a prime example. In today’s issue of USA TODAY, they’ve got the cutest picture of an eleven-year old girl golfer named Lucy Li. With that name and her golf swing, she’s going to go places. First off, she’s playing in the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. (See my other post today.) The men pros just got finished playing their U.S. Open championship there last week. Five feet, one inch tall Lucy Li is now the youngest golfer to ever compete in the U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament.

Luci Li qualified to get in the tournament by shooting 74 and then 68. But that’s not all to the story. She won the qualifier by SEVEN STROKES. Folks, we’re not talking about junior golfers, here. Qualifying is open to anyone, so most of the qualifiers probably are grown ladies and college players. Wow, Pinehurst No. 2 is a big, tough golf course for a little 11-year old girl.

When she arrived at Pinehurst this week, the media was surrounding her and asked her if she was nervous. She said, “Not really. I just want to go out there and have fun and play the best I can, and I really don’t care about the outcome. It’s just I want to have fun and learn.” Jim McLean, one of the premier swing instructor for PGA Tour pros, is her teacher. He says Luci’s work ethic is “off the charts.” She’s smart too. She does homeschooling through an online Stanford University program. She likes math, science, history, and loves to read.

She is philosophical about golf. She says, “I like golf because it’s different other sports. Anybody can play it, if you’re tall, short, fast or slow, that’s what I like about it.” She can hit her driver 230 yards. But she says, “It goes farther in tournaments when there’s adrenaline.” Oh my gosh. I didn’t know about adrenaline until I was maybe 20 or 30 something.

She reveals that throwing golf clubs due to anger is off limits. Asked if she’ll get intimidated this week by competing with all those grown lady pros, she replied, “I just don’t care that much.”

Tall, good-looking LPGA star Michelle Wie was a child prodigy at golf. She played in a men’s PGA Tour tournament at age 13 and turned pro at 16. She says of Luci, “She looks so young and so darn cute. I was like, ‘I don’t think I looked that cute when I was 11.’”

Luci Li’s story is not new. There have teenage girls who have been playing on the LPGA Tour, and some of them are doing quite well. It reminds me of what the colorful, tempestuous, and witty PGA Tour player Tommy (Thunder) Bolt said one time. He was retired and only occasionally playing a Tour event. So, he entered one of the Tour tournaments. He arrived at the golf course and went to the practice range. He gazed at a bunch of pros lined up on the practice tee hitting balls out onto the range and blurted out, “Where did all these CHILDREN come from?”


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