(Reuters) - Lucy Li, who became the youngest player ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2014, has been warned by the United States Golf Association (USGA) after breaching amateur status rules by appearing in an Apple Watch advertising campaign.
The USGA announced on Thursday that Li, 16, breached rule 6-2, but determined that there were extenuating circumstances. It issued her with a “one-time warning” and said she can retain her amateur status.
Golfers must abide by a fairly strict set of rules to retain amateur status.
Rule 6-2 states in part that a player cannot use his or her “name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.”
The USGA said in a statement: “Late last year, Ms. Li was engaged by a casting agent for an acting assignment to promote the Apple Watch. At that time, the nature of her participation was not defined and she was given no indication that she would appear as a golfer.
“The USGA has had several discussions with both Apple and the Li family and has confirmed that Ms. Li has neither received, nor will receive in the future, any monetary or non-monetary (e.g., products) compensation for her appearance in the advertisement.
“Ms. Li has affirmed to the USGA that at the time she agreed to participate in the advertisement she did not know she was breaching the Rules of Amateur Status, and at no time did she intend to forfeit her Amateur Status.”
Li first made headlines in 2014 when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2 at 11 years old.
She is scheduled to compete in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur before the Masters in April.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis