PINEHURST, N.C - Lucy Li started her second round on Friday in the U.S. Women's Open a shot inside the cut line and had everyone on this massive property at Pinehurst No. 2 hoping for the incredible.
Unfortunately, the 11-year-old sixth grader, who is the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, did not become the youngest player to ever make the cut in the tournament's history.
Not that she's heartbroken.
"It was a lot of fun," Li said as she stood on a box to reach the microphone for her post-round interview. The 5-1 Li shot rounds of 78-78 to miss the cut, with each round consisting of two birdies.
"I guess that it was fun because I had two great playing partners. They were really nice," she said of Catherine O'Donnell and Jessica Wallace. "It was fun I guess because I did a good job of staying patient and going to the next shot and not caring about what happens.
"You have to be patient. That's what I learned. Definitely. Because I did a good job of that this week and it really helped because I got triples and I came back with birdies. That's what's really important."
While Li didn't get any autographs from the players, "''I'm not really big on autographs," she said," she signed a couple hundred during the week. She filled up on ice cream bars. And she got e-mails from her friends.
"They have been really excited," she said. "They thought I played really well. They're like, 'Oh, you're famous now."
Li won the crowds over with her carefree attitude and just plain cuteness. Plus a game that astonished elders helped, too.
Li's caddie Bryan Bush, who is a professional caddie at Pinehurst and the Maroon Creek Club in Aspen, Colo., said he's been impressed from the first day he met the tiny girl one month ago.
The two played practice rounds at Pinehurst No. 2 and hit range balls at numerous facilities in the Pine Needles.
He was most impressed with Li's bounce-back attitude. In the first round, she made a par and a birdie after making a triple bogey. She did so again in her second after making a triple on the 13th and a birdie on the 14th.
"We would have an uh-oh hole and next thing you know she would hit a hybrid or a fairway wood inside eight feet," Bush said. "You don't see many of the adult pros doing that. And when she hit the 3-wood on 16 today, just a little left and it goes in the bunker, she asked, 'Did that go in the bunker?' I said, yes. She goes, 'OK. Oh, well.'
"She was here for the experience and the opportunity to play with the best players in the world. She proved that she can. So it was never about score. The best part, she didn't even know what she made on 13 when we walked off the green. She was like, 'What did I make?' But it was fun. We had a great time. I really wish her the best of luck and hope I get to work with her again."
Li will next play in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., starting July 14.
She'll do so with the unforgettable experience of this week.
"I'm really happy about how I played," she said. "I'm really happy with how I bounced back from the big numbers. I got birdies after I got like doubles and triples, so that's what I'm really happy about.
"I guess you have to be patient."