PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – USA GOLF announced today that junior golf standouts Lucy Li, of Redwood Shores, California, and Akshay Bhatia, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, will represent USA GOLF and Team USA at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, October 6-18, 2018. Li, 15, and Bhatia, 16, currently rank first, respectively, in the Rolex American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Rankings and are both members of the high school class of 2020.
Designated for athletes aged 15 to 18, along with non-athlete participants—young reporters, ambassadors and athlete role models—the Youth Olympic Games not only serves as a high-level competition, but it also gives all athletes the opportunity to participate in a Culture and Education Program (CEP) focusing on the following themes: Olympism and Olympic values, skills development, well-being and healthy lifestyle, social responsibility and expression through digital media.
“I’m so incredibly excited and humbled to be able to represent the USA in the Youth Olympics with such a great player and friend Akshay,” said Li. “To have the opportunity to compete for gold along with future stars in other sports is a once in a lifetime opportunity and an incredible honor. I absolutely can’t wait to compete in Argentina and hopefully we can bring some medals back!”
“It’s an honor to play in the Youth Olympics, especially to represent your country, you can never get an opportunity to do it three times as a 16-year-old,” said Bhatia. “I can’t wait to hopefully get a gold.”
Li and Bhatia both qualified based on their standings in the Youth Olympic Golf Rankings, which are formed by adding the highest ranked man and woman on the Men World Amateur Golf Rankings and Women World Amateur Golf Rankings. The top 26 National Olympic Committees (NOC) on the Youth Olympic Golf rankings are eligible to enter one male and one female. The United States is currently the top-ranked NOC.
Li, a four-time AJGA winner and 2017 First Team Rolex Junior All-American, has been making headlines long before she teed it up in her first AJGA event in 2016. Li was 11 years old when she qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, surpassing Lexi Thompson’s record (12 years, 4 months, 8 days). Li also holds the record for the youngest qualifier at the U.S. Women’s Amateur (10 years, 10 months, 4 days) and the youngest match play qualifier at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (10 years, 8 months, 16 days). Most recently, Li won the 2017 ANA Junior Inspiration and earned an exemption into the LPGA’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, where she was the youngest player and only amateur to make the cut. Li was also a member of three victorious U.S. national teams—2016 Junior Ryder Cup, 2017 Junior Solheim Cup and 2018 Curtis Cup.
Bhatia, a 7-time AJGA winner and 2017 First Team Rolex Junior All-American, has already notched two AJGA victories in the 2018 season, including a record-setting performance at the 2018 Polo Golf Junior Classic at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield, New Jersey. Bhatia broke the course record with a 7-under 64 in the second round and posted scores of 66-64-66-71–267 to win by 10 strokes. This was just one of Bhatia’s thrilling and record-shattering performances in recent years. Last July, Bhatia shot a second-round 61, a course record, at the Boys Junior PGA Championship, en route to a 22-under-par performance that shattered 3-time PGA TOUR winner Pat Perez’s previous record by five strokes. Bhatia not only shot the lowest 18-hole round in the championship’s history, but he also became the first player to break 200 after 54 holes. The North Carolina native also represented the United States at the inaugural 2017 Junior Presidents Cup at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey, owning an undefeated 3-0-0 record that helped lead the United States Team to a 14-10 victory over the International Team.
The Youth Olympic Games are held every four years and alternate between summer and winter editions. The first Youth Olympic Games was held in 2010 in Singapore, but golf made its debut on the Olympic stage in 2014 during the summer games in Nanjing. 2018 marks the first time the games have been held outside of Asia and in the Americas.
Fast Facts about the 2018 Youth Olympic Games Golf Competition:
Host course: Hurlingham Club, Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Individual, 54-hole stroke play competition for men and women: October 9-11, 2018
- Mixed Gender Team competition (stroke play): October 13-15, 2018
- First round: foursome
- Second round: four-ball
- Third round: both individual scores count
- The team that plays the stipulated rounds in the fewest strokes is the winner
For more information about the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, visit: www.buenosaires2018.com
For more information about the Youth Olympic Games Golf Competition, visit: https://www.igfgolf.org/olympic-games/youth-olympic-games/