Lucy Li, 14, among U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinalists

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

Lucy Li, 14, among U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinalists

LPGA Tour

Lucy Li, 14, among U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinalists

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Lucy Li already has defeated two members of the UCLA women’s golf team at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. On Friday, the 14-year-old will face a third in junior Lilia Vu in the quarterfinal round at San Diego Country Club.

Vu’s parents closed down the family shop, Golf’s Future, in Fountain Valley, Calif., for the occasion. Brother Andre, 22, a fifth-year senior on UC Riverside’s team, caddied the first two days for Vu but now mom, Yvonne Du, is pushing the cart. Vu’s father Douglas, her instructor, is in Vietnam on business.

“I wish he could’ve been here,” said Vu, who won four consecutive tournaments last spring, including the Pac-12 Championship.

Li, who is competing in her 10th USGA championship, defeated Bruin Mariel Galdiano,4 and 3, in the first round and junior Bethany Wu, 6 an 5, in the Round of 32. Li birdied five of her last seven holes Thursday morning at San Diego Country Club, putting on a putting clinic.

In the afternoon, Li put a stop to the valiant charge of Stanford’s Shannon Aubert with a gritty up-and-down for par from a greenside bunker on the difficult 18th. 

“I’ve learned so much about myself and match play,” said Li, who became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open at 11 years, 8 months and 19 days. Li first competed in the Women’s Am at age 10 and advanced to the Round of 32 last year. This marks her first quarterfinal appearance in any championship.

The quiet but competitive Vu, who last qualified for this event in 2010 at age 13, took up the game at age 7. The political science major can’t explain why her ball-striking has improved so much since she got to college. One improvement that’s easily explained: course management.

“I think a lot before I hit,” she said. “What’s the point of just looking at the pin and just hitting it?”

Vu is one of five college players left in the field of eight. She’s joined by Albane Valenzuela, the Olympian from Stanford, Lauren Stephenson (Alabama), Robynn Ree (USC) and Sophia Schubert (Texas). Stephenson tied for 41st at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump Bedminster, hitting a beauty on the par-3 16th in front of President Donald Trump’s special viewing box.

Stephenson, 20, will square off next against the youngest player to advance to the quarterfinals in 13-year-old Chia Yen Wu of Chinese Taipei. Wu defeated 2014 Women’s Am champ Kristen Gillman, 3 and 1. She actually qualified for this championship at age 12 but had to withdraw due to an injured knee. Wu joins Valenzuela and Schubert as first-time participants in this event.

The third junior to advance is 16-year-old Isabella Fierro of Mexico. Fierro was runner-up in the 2016 Mexican Women’s Amateur and finished third in 2015. She takes lessons from Rafael Alarcon, longtime instructor of Lorena Ochoa. Alarcon played college golf at Oklahoma State, which is where Fierro has also committed to play. 

Last month, Fierro became the first Mexican to win the prestigious North and South Women’s Amateur, prompting a tweet from countrywoman Ochoa, who acts as a mentor. Fierro took down local favorite Haley Moore, 6 and 4. 

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