How Lucy Li Returned Class to Golf

Thoughts on 11-year-old Lucy Li’s debut at the Women’s U.S. Open.

1. If Lucy did endorsements, she would supplant Phil Mickelson, golf’s current top-earner. Think of the possibilities: ice cream, clothing… The list is long.

2. Lucy, have you ever been intimidated on the golf course? “No, I just don’t care that much.” What! Golf is just a game? Gee, the sports media constantly tells us, in solemn tones, that grown men playing games are “making history”?

3. How long until IMG offers her father a gig as a “talent scout”? (That’s how Tiger Woods remained <cough, cough> an “amateur.”)

4. Many Internet posters are making insulting comments about Lucy. Explanation: The “casual golf fans” don’t want anyone — not even an 11-year-old girl — pushing Tiger Woods further into the world’s collective rearview mirror. Alternative explanation: There are so few “good people” today that when a good person gets attention, the cheats and malcontents become jealous and vindictive.

5. After Woods’s scandal, we were lectured by the apologists, “His personal life is none of your business. All that matters is his swing.” Suddenly Lucy’s swing matters not; we are told her parents are monsters (they aren’t), she “looks spoiled” (she doesn’t, and isn’t), and she’s too young to play in the U.S. Open (she played her way in).

6. Her favorite player is Webb Simpson, the man who won the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, her favorite course. Ah, shucks, golf media, maybe it’s time to jettison your obsession with Tiger Woods.

7. This girl reads books!

8. She’s from California, but doesn’t use her fame to gripe about taxes.

9. “I like golf because it’s different from other sports. Anybody can play it, if you’re tall, short, fast or slow, that’s what I like about it.”  What!  I thought you had to be an “athlete” to play golf nowadays.  You know, like the frail, eternally-injured ectomorph Tiger Woods, who never played any sport other than golf.  You know, the guy who was “golf’s first athlete.”  (Sorry, Hale Irwin, being a two-time college football All Big Eight Conference defensive back doesn’t mean you are an athlete.  You gotta, you know, ride an exercise bike at “the gym” like those other great athletes, housewives and 60-year-old business executives.  Playing college football?  Nah, sorry, that’s not athletic enough.)

10. Q. What’s the happiest you’ve ever been on the golf course and have you ever thrown a club?
LUCY LI: (laughing hysterically) No, no, throwing clubs is strictly off limits. No. No.
Don’t hold your breath waiting to see Lucy kick her club on No. 16 at Augusta National!  She’s 11 years old, far too mature for such things.

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