Lucy Li, an 11-year-old who won a skills event at Augusta National in April, fired an eight-over- par 78 on Thursday in a historic US Women's Open first round.
Li, the youngest qualifier in US Women's Open history at age 10, was proudly holding an ice cream cone in her left hand while answering questions about her round on a hot day at formidable Pinehurst.
"Getting to play in the US Open was a lot of fun. I kind of struggled today, but it was great," Li said.
"I'm happy with how I played. It's 8-over, it's not bad. But I was 7-over in three holes, so that's 1-over in 15 holes. So, I just need to get rid of the big numbers."
''She looks 11. She doesn't talk 11. And she doesn't hit the ball like she's 11,'' said Catherine O'Donnell, who played with her in a sunbaked opening round on a course that only four days ago hosted the men's U.S. Open.
Li missed only one fairway - by less than a yard. Even though she hit fairway metals into half of the holes, she rarely got out of position. Now if she could only take back three shots that led to big numbers.
Perhaps most remarkable about her round, besides the 13 pars and two birdies, was how she bounced back from mistakes.
''That's what I was so happy about in my round,'' she said. ''Because after I got doubles and triples, I was able to get it back. Like I made a good stretch of holes after the double on the first hole. And after the triple, I birdied No. 5. And I got a lot of pars after that.''
Li left a tough angle for her third shot on the par-5 10th hole and came up short and into a bunker. The sand shot looked reasonable until it kept rolling off the back of the green. She chipped with her wedge (a pink shaft) to about 8 feet and missed the putt to take double bogey.
Along the way in a 5 1/2-hour round, Li often plopped to the ground in the shade and sat until it was time to hit, one time munching from a cup of fruit.
''I normally sit down even more than that,'' she said, giggling as always.
''She's so much more mature than I could possibly imagine,'' said Jessica Wallace, the other player in their group. ''She's a lot better than people thought. She's very capable on this golf course. She played like she belongs out here. And it was a real pleasure.''