Lucy Li retains am status as USGA issues 'one-time warning'
Lucy Li (USGA photo)
’s amateur status – and whether or not she compromised it by appearing in an Apple Watch campaign early this year – has been one of the most talked-about topics in golf so far in 2019. The USGA put an end to the speculation on Feb. 14, announcing that the 16-year-old Li did, in fact, breach Rule 6-2 (which defines amateur status) but that a one-time warning will allow her to continue competing as an amateur.
The USGA issued a release explaining its decision and included the following details:
Late last year, Ms. Li was engaged by a casting agent for an acting assignment to promote the Apple Watch. At that time, the nature of her participation was not defined and she was given no indication that she would appear as a golfer. While on this assignment, Ms. Li was filmed engaging in a variety of recreational activities, one of which was golf. The casting agent informed her that her appearance in any final advertisement was not guaranteed, nor did they know how she would be featured.
Ms. Li first became aware of the final content of the advertisement, which featured her as a golfer, on Jan. 2. She was notified by the USGA of a pending review into her Amateur Status on Jan. 3. At that time, Apple immediately took down the advertisement in all its forms. On Jan. 11, USGA notified Ms. Li she had breached the Rules of Amateur Status.
Since that time, the USGA has had several discussions with both Apple and the Li family and has confirmed that Ms. Li has neither received, nor will receive in the future, any monetary or non-monetary (e.g., products) compensation for her appearance in the advertisement. Ms. Li has affirmed to the USGA that at the time she agreed to participate in the advertisement she did not know she was breaching the Rules of Amateur Status, and at no time did she intend to forfeit her Amateur Status.
In determining the level of penalty, the Committee considered all these facts and circumstances, including a recognition that Ms. Li is a minor and that this was her first breach of the rules. This ruling is consistent with the Committee’s general practice of issuing a warning to amateurs who unknowingly breach Rule 6-2 for the first time and take appropriate remedial measures. The USGA has communicated this ruling to Ms. Li and this matter is now closed.
News of Li’s potential breach arose Jan. 5, when she posted the ad to her Twitter timeline. She later removed it.
Related: Lucy Li's Apple ad spot raises questions about amateur status
The ad in question included images of Li wearing the Apple Watch during daily activities (with a heavy focus on golf).
After the USGA's ruling went public on Feb. 14, she also posted a statement on her Twitter page.
Since the USGA began its investigation into Li’s appearance in the ad, Li was among the 72 female amateurs who received an invitation to play the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. The USGA’s ruling, of course, will allow her to play the event in April.
Li is currently No. 8 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. She played on the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team last summer, and was the only junior golfer to do so. Li made headlines at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open when she qualified as an 11-year-old. Li has played a total of 14 USGA championships but has yet to win a title.
Information from the USGA used in this report