SYLVANIA (OH) — Lucy Li, 19, played with a lead on Saturday at the LPGA Tour. She recovered from a slow start to play for a 4-under-67 and a one shot lead in the Dana Open.
Li was 2 over through seven holes, quickly fading away from Highland Meadows picture when she responded with five birdies in the next 10 holes to regain her lead and set up a final round full of possibilities.
For a 65, Lexi Thompson had three straight birdies in the final round. Caroline Masson from Germany also had a 65. They were one shot behind.
Six other players were three strokes back, including Lydia Ko (a two-time tournament champion who had the low round of 64).
I was probably a bit nervous. Li stated that it wasnt anything unusual, but she hasnt felt nervous for a while. Actually, making those bogeys might help a little. Just getting that out of my way and knowing that it was possible to just let it go out there a bit.
Li was at 14-under199. The final group features a pair prodigies.
Thompson was 12 years old when she qualified for the U.S. Womens Open in Pine Needles. Seven years later, Li broke the record by qualifying for the 2014 Womens Open in Pinehurst No. 2.
Thompson stated, Itll really be great. I played a little with her — not as much out here. I think everyone knows how great of a player shes. It speaks volumes about the amount she puts into her game and the talent she has.
Li recalled playing a practice round alongside Thompson at the 14 Womens Open.
She outdroved my by 60 yards. Li stated that she probably still outdrives her by 20 yards. I haven’t spent as much time on LPGA, so I haven’t really gotten the chance to get to know her. Shes a lot older than me.
Thompson is 27.
This week felt like a bonus for Li, a California teenager. Li secured her LPGA Tour Card for next year by winning two matches and finishing second on the Epson Tour. This tour offers LPGA cards to its top 10 players.
Li was invited by a sponsor in Canada last week. She tied for ninth at the CP Womens Open and was then allowed to enter the field in Ohio. She now has a chance at winning and joining the LPGA Tour for the final two months.
It will take some time to navigate through the traffic jam of key players. This includes four major champions. Nasa Hataoka is the defending champion who had a score of 67 and was part a large group at 11-under202.
Ko, who won Highland Meadows 2014 and 2016, and had a great chance to win in 2020, until a bogey at the par-5 closing hole was equally frightening.
Ko started on the back nine, and after a bogey at the 11th, she went for the eagle at No. After a string of birdies, she moved on to No. 12. She had a chance at going even lower on her last hole, the par-4 ninth. However, her chip from the right of the green wasnt strong enough to get the hill.
They moved the 12 tee forward a bit on 12 and I was just, Hit driver off of the tee. She said that she only had a gap wedge. Its not the best finish. … I did what I needed to.
Thompson is the No. 7 player in the womens world ranking. Its another chance for Thompson to win after she was ranked No.7 in the women’s world ranking.
I enter every tournament wanting to win. Thompson acknowledged that things have not always gone my way in a few tournaments, but thats just golf. I believe you can never lose, youre always learning. There is always something you can learn from and build on.
Its golf. Its a crazy game. It can be with us one day and not another.