Lucy Li receives invitation into the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur, but will she be eligible to play?
Lucy Li is the rare female golfer with history at Augusta National Golf Club. In 2014, the Redwood Shores, Calif., native was among the inaugural winners of the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, taking first place in the girls 10-11 division after finishing off the putting portion on Augusta’s 18th green. It was a performance that foreshadowed her becoming the youngest golfer to ever qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open just a few months later at age 11.
The now 16-year-old will get a chance—potentially—to play the other 17 come March after recently receiving her invitation into the inaugural Augusta Women’s Amateur Championship. Like a handful of others headed to Georgia in late March, Li showed off her invite on Sunday via social media, her spot earned thanks to beingNo. 9 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
The question, though, is will Li still be an amateur come late March and get a chance to take advantage of the invitation. Earlier this month, Li appeared in a video that touted the features and benefits of the Apple Watch. The 15-second spot caught the attention of USGA officials, who are looking into whether the video might have compromised her amateur status.
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The USGA’s Rules of Amateur Status prohibit amateurs from using their golf skill or reputation “to obtain payment, compensation, personal benefit or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, for (i) promoting, advertising or selling anything, or (ii) allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.” Under Rule 6-2, it specifically states that “even if no payment or compensation is received, an amateur golfer is deemed to receive a personal benefit by promoting, advertising or selling anything, or allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.”
It’s unclear how long the USGA investigation will take place, or how the governing body might interpret Li’s participation in the video. When contacted by Golf Digest, Li said she could not comment about the spot because she had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple. Li’s mother, Amy, told Golf Digest that Lucy and the family were not compensated for appearing in the video.
Li is also expected to compete in a prominent junior event, the Buick Shanshan Feng AJGA Girls Invitational, next month, pending a ruling from the USGA.