Stacy Lewis: Lucy Li too young

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lucy Li made history last month when she became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open.

But with the major championship kicking off Thursday morning at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina, not all players in the field feel an 11-year-old should be teeing it up beside them.

Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked women's player in the world, voiced concerns that a sixth-grader from the Bay Area is competing in such a big event at such a young age.

"I'm not a big fan of it. She qualified, so we can't say anything about that," Lewis, 29, told USA Today Sports. "But I like to see kids be successful at every level before they come out here. I just like to see kids learn how to win before they come get beat up out here.

"When I found out she qualified, I said, 'Well, where does she go from here?' You qualify for an Open at 11, what do you do next? If it was my kid, I wouldn't let her play in the U.S. Open qualifier at 11, but that's just me."

Young players competing in the U.S. Women's Open is nothing new.

Morgan Pressel qualified when she was 12 and had just turned 13 when the Women's Open was down the street from Pinehurst at Pine Needles in 2001. (Li wasn't even born then.) Lexi Thompson qualified and played at 12 when it returned to Pine Needles in 2007.

Too young? Both have gone on to win major championships.

"Look, if you're good enough, you're old enough -- or young enough, whichever way you look at it," tour veteran Laura Davies said. "If you can play the golf and you can qualify, then have a go. What's the worst that can happen? She shoots a million this week and everyone says, 'Wasn't it great she was here?' So I don't think anything bad can come out of it because she's too young to worry about the pressure.

"She's just having fun. She's got a week off school. It's perfect."

Michelle Wie agrees. Wie was 13 when she played in her first Women's Open and has been asked a lot about Li this week.

"A lot of people ask me, 'Is that too young? What do you think?'" Wie said. "It's a memory that will last her a lifetime. What other 11-year-old can say that they played in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst and got to see the men play as well, too?"

Li begins first-round play at 7:07 a.m. ET on Thursday.

Information from espnW's Mechelle Voepel and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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