At the 2008 US Women’s Open, 19-year-old South Korean prodigy Inbee Park became the youngest champion in the tournament’s history when she won her first of seven major championships.
Bella Simões was not yet born for approximately six years. However, on Tuesday, she made an attempt to qualify for the major event.
At the age of nine, the Brazilian is the youngest person to ever compete in the tournament, which will take place at California’s renowned Pebble Beach course in July. This will be the first time in 78 years that the tournament is held at this location.
Simões made the initial shot of her qualifying round at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Florida. Her flawless swing, which was shared on the USGA’s Twitter account, received many praises.
The #USWomensOpen tournament has officially started!
Bella Simoes, who is nine years old, took the initial shot.
Follow along @FSGA ➡️ https://t.co/622czXdhXk pic.twitter.com/4aYolLLL21
— U.S. Women’s Open (@uswomensopen) May 9, 2023
It’s not shocking since Simões has an impressive résumé. She won the US Kids Golf World Championship in the under-seven division in 2020 and successfully defended her title the following year. In 2022, she also won the eight-year-olds competition.
This is a prestigious youth tournament featuring the accomplished Lexi Thompson, who was ranked 7th in the world and won the 2014 Chevron Championship before becoming one of the top players in the sport.
In 2007, Thompson, who was only 12 years old at the time, became the youngest golfer to ever qualify for the US Women’s Open.
Golf’s greatest-ever prodigies
Unfortunately for Simões, he will need to wait at least another year to try and claim the title, as he only has a few remaining attempts left. In the recent 67-player competition, he finished tied for 59th place with a score of 23-over par. While Lindy Duncan and Brooke Matthews earned automatic qualification with impressive scores of 10-under and 8-under, Simões fell short.
The USGA has reported that the number of entries for the upcoming July championship has reached a record high. A total of 2,107 individuals from 47 states in the US and 62 countries have applied, surpassing last year’s record of 1,874 applicants. Last year’s champion, Minjee Lee, emerged victorious at Pine Needles.
To qualify, players must either have a handicap index of 2.4 or lower, or be a professional. Some groups are excluded and will automatically receive an invitation, such as the previous 10 winners and the top 75 ranked players in the world.
According to the USGA, Kimberly Williams, a professional player from Bethesda, Maryland, was the oldest participant to try for qualification this year at 60 years old.