PINEHURST, N.C. — Lucy Li’s friends back in California have been filling her inbox with emails.
That’s the only way they can reach her at the U.S. Women’s Open.
The 11-year-old is too young for a cellphone.
“They’re like, `Oh, you’re famous now,'” she said, laughing.
Li made quite an impression at Pinehurst No. 2 — even if she didn’t make it to the weekend. The youngest qualifier in the history of the tournament mostly held her own at the Women’s Open.
For the second straight day, a couple of rough holes proved to be her undoing.
Hurt by a double bogey and a triple bogey, Li shot her second straight 8-over 78.
According to her caddie, this week was never about her score.
“She was here for the experience and the opportunity to play with the best players in the world,” caddie Bryan Bush said. “She proved that she can.”
Li was 22 strokes behind leader Michelle Wie and 19 behind Lexi Thompson, who both know about playing the Women’s Open at a young age.
Wie’s first was in 2003 when she was 13. In 2007, Thompson became the youngest to qualify at age 12 — until Li supplanted her.
“I hope she’s having a blast out there,” Wie said.
All eyes were on the pre-teen from the Bay Area who showed a beyond-her-years knack for bouncing back from mistakes and rough holes.
She bounced back from her roughest hole — the par-4 13th — with one of her best.
Li’s tee shot on 13 landed in some thick weeds, and she missed the ball when she tried to punch it out. After a brief chat with USGA President Tom O’Toole, she took a drop and her shot from that rough ricocheted off the green and near the seating area.
After she chipped to about 15 feet, she pushed that putt wide right and tapped in for her second triple bogey of the tournament.
She came back strong: Li birdied the 14th — her favorite moment of the tournament — and closed her round with pars on three of her final four holes to match her opening-round score.
“I’m really happy with how I bounced back from the big numbers,” Li said.
Marlene Bauer’s place in tournament history as the youngest player to make the cut remained safe: She was 13 in 1947 in the second Women’s Open before going on to become one of the founders of the LPGA Tour.