PINEHURST, N.C. -- The youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Women's Open won't be the youngest to make the Open cut.
Eleven-year-old Lucy Li of Redwood Shores shot a very respectable 78 for the second day in a row Friday, though her two-day total of 16-over-par 156 missed the cut by seven strokes.
"I'm really happy by how I played," Li said. "I'm happy with how I bounced back after some big numbers."
She had two of those on Friday -- a double bogey on No. 1 and a triple bogey on No. 13.
Though Li solved most of the issues that she had with bunkers on Thursday -- thanks to some work put in late Thursday and early Friday -- the sand and natural vegetation that replaced the rough at famed Pinehurst No. 2 became her greatest source of frustration Friday. On her first hole, she hit two shots into that area and needed four to reach the green on the par-4. She picked up her triple bogey after again missing the fairway on No. 13 and failing to punch the ball out on her first attempt to get out of the grassy area.
Yet Li, who entered the day two strokes off the projected cut line, was most impressive when she seemed on the verge of the sort of collapse that many were expecting of an 11-year-old on such a big stage. She recorded the first of two birdies on the par-4 No. 3, where she had a triple bogey Thursday. Her second birdie came on the par-4 14th, immediately after the triple bogey.
"We would have an 'uh-oh hole,' " said her caddie, Bryan Bush. "And the next thing you know, she'll hit a hybrid or a fairway wood inside eight feet. You don't see many adult pros doing that.
"She didn't even know what she made on 13 when we walked off the green. But it was never about score. She was here for the experience and the opportunity to play with the best players in the world. She proved that she can."
Li said the experience taught her the importance of patience, which she credited for getting her past her double and triple bogeys.
She said her friends are giving her a hard time about her newfound fame. But the little girl in pigtails was clearly wiped out after a week of being golf's darling, a favorite of the media and the fans who lined up six deep along some points of the course to watch her. Asked to recall a favorite shot during her two days here, she drew a blank.
"I'm kind of tired," she said. "I can't remember."
These memories will come back to her.
Bush said one of the cutest moments he'll remember was while she was sitting on the tee at 12.
"We had finally found some Gatorade packs that she likes," Bush said. "She was kind of doing her own little mixology, getting the levels right, so it's not too sweet but not too bland. She just looked like an 11-year-old. But with a professional golf swing."
Among the pros whom Li beat here were Mika Miyazato, who has three top-10 U.S. Open finishes and won $1.3 million in 2012; Kristy McPherson, who won more than $800,000 in 2009; and Marta Silva, the NCAA national player of the year in 2011.
And Li still has time to claim the distinction that eluded her Friday. Marlene Hagge, who advanced to the U.S. Women's Open final two rounds as a 13-year-old in 1947, remains the youngest player to make an Open cut.
Lucy Li will be only 12 years old at this time next year.
Lucy Liu's second round score and overall Open total.