Women set to follow men with Pinehurst U.S. Open

Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:10pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Just four days after Germany's Martin Kaymer won his second major title in the U.S. Open played at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, the top women's golfers will tee off at the same venue vying for the U.S. Women's Open.

American world number one Stacy Lewis, third-ranked New Zealander Lydia Ko and reigning champion Park Inbee of South Korea have commanded much of the attention ahead of the season's second women's major where all three are among the favorites.

Also front and center in the media spotlight has been American Lucy Li who, at the tender age of 11, became the youngest ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open after going two under par in her sectional qualifier last month.

Li first tasted the limelight by winning her age group at Augusta National's inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship before the Masters in April, and she has charmed the fans during Pinehurst practice with her zest for golf and life in general.

With her hair in pigtails and a readiness to smile and giggle at every opportunity, she does not take herself too seriously and is determined to make the most of her first experience at a women's major.

"The perfect week, I just want to go out there and have fun and play the best I can and I really don't care about the outcome," Californian Li told reporters while preparing for Thursday's opening round at Pinehurst.

"I just want to have fun and learn. I want to learn a lot from these great players."

Li is not the youngest player to participate in the U.S. Women's Open as Beverly Klass was 10 when she competed in the 1967 championship, prior to the qualification process.

While Li aims to make the most her week at Pinehurst, Korean Park will be bidding to become the first player since Australian Karrie Webb in 2001 to win back-to-back U.S. Women's Open titles.   Continued...