17-year-old Lucy Li turns pro knowing she won't be eligible to play on the LPGA until 2021

17-year-old Lucy Li turns pro knowing she won’t be eligible to play on the LPGA until 2021

Lucy Li came into the golfing consciousness when she surpassed Lexi Thompson to become the youngest play to ever qualify for the US Women's Open at age 11. Almost six years later, Li has turned professional and is eyeing gaining her LPGA Tour card for 2021.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the news.

After finishing T-72 in the second stage of the LPGA Q-School process, Li earned limited status next year on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA's developmental tour. Though she didn't land in Q-Series with a chance to potentially acquire an LPGA card as an amateur, Li made the choice to turn pro and become part of the paid set.

“I’m excited to be playing here and really looking forward to the Symetra Tour next year, then hopefully take that jump to the next level," Li said after her Q-School finish.

Had Li moved through to Q-Series and earned her card, she would have been required to petition the LPGA for an exemption to their age floor of 18. Without that being an issue, Li would be able to take up her LPGA card for the 2021 season if she earns it through the Symetra Tour, Q-Series or by winning an LPGA event. She turns 18 on Oct. 1, 2020.

The California native became well-known for qualifying for the 2014 US Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2, enjoying freeze pops after the round, including during a press conference.

Li was a controversial figure earlier this year when she appeared in an Apple Watch commercial, a cameo that seemed to be a clear-cut case of violating the USGA's rules of amateur status. Ultimately, however, the USGA allowed her to maintain that amateur status despite concluding she had breached the rules.

While an amateur, Li reached as high as the third-ranked female amateur in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. However, she surprised the golf world this spring when she withdrew ahead of the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur with an unspecified injury.

Li is the second high-profile amateur to skip college and turn pro this fall, with 17-year-old Akshay Bhatia joining the pro ranks after the Walker Cup.

On the women's side, Li is also joined by Sierra Brooks, the University of Florida standout, in turning pro after Q-School, in which she earned Symetra Tour status. Five amateur players earned their LPGA cards or Symetra Tour cards through the Q-Series, and they have to decide to turn pro and take status for the full 2020 season or remain amateurs until the midpoint of the season and take up deferred status then.

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