My Shot: Lucy Li / Silicon Valley / CaliforniaMarch 26, 2015

We Love Lucy

At 11, Lucy Li had won at Augusta, played the Open at Pinehurst, and learned the art of balancing ice cream and veggies. Now 12, she's just getting started.

Photographed by Cody Pickens on Jan. 25, 2015, at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club.

Photographed by Cody Pickens on Jan. 25, 2015, at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club.

I'M ONLY 5-3 AND 100 POUNDS, but I hit my driver about 230 yards. My 7-iron flies 130 yards. I was wondering, what if tomorrow I woke up with super-human powers and suddenly was 100 yards longer off the tee and 50 yards longer with the irons? That would be the coolest thing. I think my handicap would be five strokes lower. Instead of being a plus-3.1, I'd be a plus-8. Maybe I'd be as good as Bubba Watson.

I WATCH MORE MEN'S GOLF ON TV THAN WOMEN'S GOLF, only because there's more of it to watch. The men seem to be on all the time. Why is that? I don't think it's very fair.

NONE OF MY FRIENDS IN CALIFORNIA WATCHED THE DRIVE, CHIP AND PUTT ON TV LAST YEAR. My feelings weren't hurt by that. My 10-11 age group at Augusta National came on at 8 a.m., which meant it was 5 a.m. in California. I wouldn't get up at 5 a.m. to watch golf, either.

__WHEN I WON MY AGE GROUP,__I felt pressure only on the drive part. It was held on the practice range, with one of the practice greens right in the area where I wanted to land my drive. My first tee shot landed on the side of that green, which kicked it out of the 30-yard-wide zone. You get only two drives, so I was a little nervous. This time I aimed 10 feet farther to the right. It came off really good and caught the downslope at the rear of the practice green and bounced forward. It went 227 yards. My brother saw a tweet from someone who said Darren Clarke was there watching and was impressed. I was so excited!

HOW CAN YOU GO TO THE MASTERS AND NOT BRING HOME SOME SOUVENIRS? I got a really pretty sterling-silver necklace with a Masters emblem that I love wearing. I also got some neat cups with the Masters logo.

Lucy Li

THE DRIVE, CHIP AND PUTT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE, but I'm afraid I can't make it this year due to scheduling. Scheduling as in, school. I don't want to get behind. But I do hope to see a lot of kids take part in it. I think I learned a lot from it.

IF YOU WANT TO GET LITTLE KIDS HOOKED ON GOLF, make sure they get to be with their friends. They'll for sure have fun that way. Grown-ups are fun to play with, too, but when it comes to golf, there's no substitute for kids being around people their age.

WHEN I WAS 4, I enjoyed swimming and really liked jumping into the water. So I began jumping off the spring diving board and then graduated to platform diving—a 10-meter platform, which is a little over 30 feet. When I play golf, some of the same principles that go into diving transfer to golf. You have to be calm and very focused before you jump—or hit the shot in golf. If you're not paying attention, you'll make a bad splash.

AFTER I SHOT 78-78 AND MISSED THE CUT AT THE U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN, we stayed over at Pinehurst to watch so I could learn.

ON SUNDAY, I WAS FOLLOWING MICHELLE WIE and was so impressed when she made that 25-foot putt on the 17th hole. Amazing.

THAT DONALD ROSS DESIGNED SOME TOUGH COURSES. Even good shots would roll off Pinehurst's turtleback greens and create really difficult recoveries. Every time that happened, I'd turn to my caddie, Bryan Bush, and say, "I think I just got Rossed."

I KEPT PICTURING THE SPIRIT OF MR. ROSS looking down and smiling at all the chaos he caused.

THE WEATHER WAS SO HOT AT PINEHURST. I had no problem falling asleep at night. Then again, I have no trouble sleeping ever. I can sleep from 9:30 p.m. to almost 8 a.m. Ten-and-a-half hours, no problem.

PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS FUNNY SEEING ME EAT ICE CREAM during my post-round interviews at Pinehurst. But eating ice cream is nothing unusual for me. I eat it on a regular basis. I also eat a ton of vegetables, so it evens out.

Lucy Li

WHEN I WAS 4, I MODELED IN A NATIONAL ADVERTISEMENT FOR HOME DEPOT. I had my arms around a globe of the earth. I also did a cereal ad. The neat thing about that was, my big brother, Luke, and I got to eat pre-sweetened cereal all morning long.

I TRY TO CHOOSE THE TEES that make a course play at 6,200 yards. At the Open, Pinehurst No. 2 was 6,649 yards. A few of the par 4s were about 450 yards long. In the practice rounds I couldn't reach them in two, but when the tournament started, I suddenly became 20 yards longer. I reached them all. I guess it was the adrenaline.

JACK NICKLAUS HAS TALKED ABOUT MAKING COURSES SHORTER, rolling back the golf ball and other ideas to make golf faster, easier and more fun. I agree with him. A big concern for me is the environment. If courses were shorter, they wouldn't need as much water. One day, I could see golf being played in a large stadium, with a single hole changing into a different hole after the last one was complete. You'd actually hit the ball and watch it fly the whole distance, but after that a simulator would take over and change the landscape for the next shot. Mounds, covered with artificial turf, would grow or shrink. A green would rise. Giant fans would change the direction of the wind. You could play a whole round in an hour. And it would be a blast.

THERE CAN NEVER BE A PERFECT ROUND. You know why? Nature. One blade of grass can decide whether a putt goes in the hole. Add that blade of grass to a tiny puff of wind here, and a hard piece of ground there, and it's just filled with imperfection. Other games have all kinds of dimensions and uniform playing fields. Golf has very few. That's why I love it so much.

I USED TO BE SUPERSTITIOUS. In tournaments I had to have a ball numbered "1." I also drew a star on every ball, as well as a circle that went all the way around the ball. One day I tried a different-numbered ball and played great. Then I stopped drawing the stars—it was too exhausting. Then I reduced the line from a full circle down to half a circle. Today I just mark my ball and go play.

Lucy Li

I LEARNED TO SET A MENTAL WAKE-UP ALARM. A couple of times, my parents woke me up later than I needed to be ready for an early tee time. So I started using my mental alarm clock. I'll say, OK, I need to wake up at 6:30 a.m. At 6:30 sharp, I'll wake up. I don't why it works, but I haven't slept through one yet.

I'M MY MOM'S GPS. It's the best part of having a photographic memory. When she drives me to a tournament in some far-off place, I'm able to get us back to the main highway by recognizing streets and landmarks I saw on the way

TRUST YOUR INTUITION. Rory McIlroy was my favorite player before he was super-famous and winning everything. Something I can't describe told me he was going to be really, really good. Intuition is important in everything. If you hit your 7-iron 130 yards but something tells you to hit the 6-iron, hit the 6.

WHEN YOU GET A GOOD BOUNCE, consider how lucky you were that a bad shot turned out great. When you get a bad bounce, think only about how well you hit the ball.

__I DON'T WEAR A GLOVE.__One reason is, I think I get more feel. Another reason is, Ben Hogan didn't wear one, and he was the best. The last reason is, Luke wears one, and he goes through five of them in a month, which seems like a pain.

AFTER THE U.S. OPEN, I received commendations from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Rep. Jackie Speier. I was so thrilled that I was jumping up and down. I was inspired by the letters and very happy that I was lucky enough to actually have an impact on the game. The two-framed letters are placed in my room. Every time I look at them, I feel extraordinarily honored to receive such encouraging letters from the most amazing and influential people.

MY FAVORITE SUBJECT IS HISTORY. I've read a bunch of the Kenneth C. Davis books. You know, the Don't Know Much About... series. Did you know that after Abraham Lincoln was shot, he might have survived if three doctors didn't probe the wound? The probing and introducing all kinds of bacteria greatly reduced his chances of survival.

Lucy Li

MY FAVORITE BOOK SERIES IS THE PERCY JACKSON STORIES BY RICK RIORDAN. And I love the Hunger Games trilogy. But my favorite book is Animal Farm by George Orwell. It's a story about things that happened leading up to the Russian Revolution, but it's really about people. To me, it describes how seemingly innocent beings such as animals can easily become corrupted by power.

I LOVE THAT MOVIE "THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED," about Francis Ouimet winning the U.S. Open in 1913. The most amazing thing about Ouimet is that his father didn't want him to play golf. How can someone be successful without the support of their parents?

IN A NINE-HOLE TOURNAMENT once I shot 28 and beat a girl who shot 30. The girl's father got angry with her, which made no sense, and she got mad at me, which also made no sense. I could feel the hostility, but I ignored it. Another time I was paired with the same girl. By accident she walked to the wrong tees. I reminded her where we were hitting from, and it all changed. We became friends. I think if you try to be kind to people no matter what, eventually they'll come around.