USGA reportedly investigating Lucy Li's spot in Apple advertisement

LEXINGTON, KY - JULY 10: Lucy reads her yardage book on the third hole during Round Two of the Girls Junior PGA Championship held at Kearney Hill Golf Links on July 10, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America via Getty Images) Darren Carroll/PGA of America via Getty Images

USGA reportedly investigating Lucy Li's spot in Apple advertisement

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USGA reportedly investigating Lucy Li's spot in Apple advertisement

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Lucy Li’s appearance in a recent Apple advertisement has raised questions about her amateur status.

The 16-year-old who first rocketed onto the golf scene when she qualified for and played in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at age 11 was featured in an Apple Watch advertisement earlier this week.

That’s great exposure for her of course, but Li is still an amateur.

Her spot in the ad did figure to raise questions about her amateur eligibility, and indeed it has.

Global Golf Post reported earlier on Saturday that the U.S. Golf Association is now looking into the matter.

The full USGA statement can be found here at Golf Channel, which also reported on the development.

Here is that full statement:

“The USGA was made aware of this yesterday and we’ve reached out to Lucy’s family to learn more about her participation in these videos. We are at the beginning of the fact-finding stage, and it’s premature at this point to discuss more. Lucy’s family has been fully cooperative and we are thankful for the dialogue.”

It is unclear at the moment if Li received any financial compensation for this appearance.

The USGA’s Rules of Amateur Status don’t stop at financial gain being illicit, though. Rule 6-2 on this front covers promotion, advertising and sales.

Here’s a snippet of what that rule says:

An amateur golfer of golf skill or reputation must not use that skill or reputation to obtain payment, compensation, personal benefit or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, for (i) promoting, advertising or selling anything, or (ii) allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.

The following paragraph in this rule specifically clarifies that even if there is no payment to the player here, “an amateur golfer is deemed to receive a personal benefit by promoting, advertising or selling anything, or allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything.”

In other words, this rule states that an amateur player is receiving an illicit personal benefit, regardless of financial compensation, by promoting or advertising anything or allowing his/her name or likeness to be used for such purposes.

There are exceptions to an amateur golfer being disallowed from his/her name or likeness being used in promotion. Those allowed exceptions (assuming no financial gain) are for if the golfer is promoting his/her national, regional, state or county golf union or association, a recognized charity or similar good cause or any golf competition that is considered to be in the best interests of the game (with permission from a national golf union or association).

Li is currently ranked ninth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and is No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin junior girls rankings.

In early 2017, she had no timeline on her future plans in golf. We’ll have to wait and see if this appearance might have an effect on that.

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