PINEHURST, North Carolina Lucy Li, an 11-year-old who won a skills event at Augusta National in April, fired an eight-over-par 78 on Thursday in a historic US Women's Open first round.
Li, the youngest qualifier in US Women's Open history at age 10, was proudly holding an ice cream cone in her left hand while answering questions about her round on a hot day at formidable Pinehurst.
"Getting to play in the US Open was a lot of fun. I kind of struggled today, but it was great," Li said.
Lucy Li. Photo: Getty Images
Lucy Li in action at the US Women's Open
"I'm happy with how I played. It's 8-over, it's not bad. But I was 7-over in three holes, so that's 1-over in 15 holes. So, I just need to get rid of the big numbers."
Li won the 10-11 age group title at the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship three months ago at Augusta National on the eve of the start of Masters practice.
Li, whose family is from Hong Kong, wore a red, white and blue outfit for her round as she faced the turtle-backed greens of Pinehurst, which hosted the men's US Open last week with German Martin Kaymer taking the title in the first half of a historic back-to-back majors twin bill.
"I learned a lot," Li said. "I learned that you've got to be patient. One shot at a time. Try to get rid of the big numbers.
"Even the shortest holes, if you're not in the right place, you can get double (bogey), easily."
Li began on the back nine and opened with a double bogey at the par-5 10th. She made bogey at 13 and a double bogey at 16, but made her first birdie at the first hole and answered a triple-bogey at the third with a birdie at the par-5 fifth before closing with bogeys at seven and nine.
Li did not have a score in mind when she teed off, concerned more about performance than results.
"I was just trying to have fun, go out and play my best, whatever that was," she said.
"I'm happy I broke 80, because I got two doubles and a triple and that can really ruin a score. But I'm glad I got it back after that."
Aussies in the mix
Australian golfers Minjee Lee and Katherine Kirk are two shots off the lead following the opening round.
LPGA No.1 Stacy Lewis leads the tournament at three-under-par with the American two shots ahead of six players on one-under, including the two Aussies. Lee and Kirk’s compatriot Karrie Webb, who won a US Open at nearby Pine Needles in 2001, had a 70 to be even-par going into the second round.
Lewis, who was among the early starters on Thursday, was delighted with her round.
‘‘It was such an easy day,’’ Lewis said, speaking of the stress-free round more than the golf course.
‘‘I played really, really solid, other than I had to make a few par putts. But other than that, I didn’t put myself in too bad of spots and made a few birdies.’’