It turns out Lucy Li won’t be playing in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur after all.
The 16-year-old California native and 2018 U.S. Curtis Cup team member, who retained her amateur status after the USGA investigated her appearance in an Apple advertisement earlier this year, was set to be among the 72 players to kick off the new championship next week in Georgia. But tournament officials announced on Friday that Li has withdrawn from the event, citing an unspecified injury.
Taking her place will be Kaylee Benton, a senior at the University of Arkansas who was a semifinalist at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur and competed in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.
Despite being a member of the 2018 U.S. Curtis Cup team and holding the No. 7 spot in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Li was a question mark to compete in the ANWA as recently as last month as the USGA explored whether she might lose her amateur status due to the Apple ad. But upon learning that Li and her family had not been compensated for her appearance and were not intending to professionalize, the USGA issued her a one-time warning and allowed her to remain an amateur.
Only last week, Li looked excited to compete in the ANWA, participating with fellow amateur Andrea Lee and NBA superstar Steph Curry in this video ahead of the event:
Li had very much wanted to compete again at Augusta National. She was among the first class of junior golfers to compete in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals in 2014, winning the Girls 10-11 division. Later that summer she became the youngest female to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open.
Jessica Yuen, a junior at Missouri, has also been added to the field after Alexa Melton withdrew due to injury.
The competition begins with 36 holes at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans, Ga., next Wednesday and Thursday, the field then being cut to the low 30 golfers who will compete at Augusta National in the final round. To insure everyone in the field got to play the fabled course, all competitors will get an official practice round there on Friday ahead of Saturday’s closing 18 holes, which will be televised on NBC.