Lucy Li’s recent LPGA hot streak brings her big-picture goal into focus: 2023 U.S. Solheim Cup team

·3 min read

Lucy Li only had one practice round last week at the Dana Open and still managed to hold the lead going into Sunday. Li, 19, doesn’t have status on the LPGA, but for a second week in a row, she has parlayed a top-10 performance into another start.

This time at the inaugural Kroger Queen City Championship, Li will tee it up Thursday without having played a single hole at Cincinnati’s Kenwood Country Club. Heavy downpours and lightning closed the course multiple times early week, and Lee was only able to walk it on Tuesday without her clubs.

“It is a very, beautiful, beautiful golf course, very classic,” said Li. “We have the trees and the rough and the bunkers. … not many expectations going in there tomorrow.”

Li’s two summer victories on the Epson Tour wrapped up her LPGA card for 2023. This week marks her fourth consecutive start on the LPGA, dating back to the ISPS Handa World Invitational in Northern Ireland, which she played on a sponsor exemption. She has finished T-27, T-9 and T-4 in her last three LPGA starts.

2022 U.S. Women's Open
2022 U.S. Women's Open

Lucy Li plays her tee shot on the 16th hole during the second round of the 77th U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, North Carolina. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

In addition to her play on two separate tours, Li also takes online courses at the University of Pennsylvania. The former prodigy and now Ivy Leaguer who once counted the late Mickey Wright among her mentors, also has a sponsor invite to next week’s AmazingCre Portland Classic.

“My goal after I locked up my card was to try to get as many starts out here as I could,” said Li, “kind of get myself prepared for next year, work on my world ranking.”

While Li can’t earn CME points as a non-member, she can improve her Rolex Rankings position, which helps move her toward another goal.

“Fingers crossed,” said Li, “kind of like long-term … more of an out-of-reach goal is maybe getting into the Solheim Cup next year, if I play well enough.”

Li, who made headlines around the world by qualifying for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at age 11, can’t begin earning Solheim Cup points until she becomes a member of the tour, but points are doubled starting in 2023. She can also play her way onto the team via the Rolex Rankings.

Back in March, Li ranked as low as 291st in the world, but jumped to 125th after last week’s share of fourth.

At the Dana Open, 2023 Solheim Cup captain Stacy Lewis told Golfweek that she believes “there’s going to be some opportunities for younger players to get in the mix.” Lewis then rattled off four would-be rookies: Andrea Lee, Allisen Corpuz, Lilia Vu and Li.

“I’d say those four are probably four to watch, I think,” Lewis said.

The top seven players on the points list will be picked to represent the U.S. in Spain next fall. Vu currently ranks seventh in points while Lee is 11th and Corpuz is 14th.

Li, who turns 20 on Oct. 1, competed on the U.S. Curtis Cup team in 2018. She earned 3 ½ points in the American rout.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek