A teenage American star has been allowed to remain as an amateur despite violating the Rules of Amateur Status.
Lucy Li, 16, has been given a ‘one-time warning’ by the USGA following an investigation after appearing in an advertisement for tech giant Apple.
The appearance, in early January, caught the attention of the USGA, who determined that Li had breached Rule 6-2, which states that “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.”
But after several further discussions with Li and her family, the USGA decided not to take away Li's amateur status due to her age and because it was her first offence, while she also didn’t receive any monetary or non-monetary compensation for her appearance.
She also didn’t knowingly break Rule 6-2, according to the USGA’s investigation.
“Late last year, Ms. Li was engaged by a casting agent for an acting assignment to promote the Apple Watch,” read a USGA statement. “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.”
On Twitter, Li said: “I have apologised to the USGA and accept my responsibility in participating in the Apple Watch ad.
“It was never my intention to cause the USGA and myself to be in this position. The USGA is like a family to me, and I appreciate the thorough review of all the facts and the consideration I've been given.
“I'm looking forward to continue playing as an amateur and to do all that I can to promote this great game."
The result of the investigation means Li is still scheduled to compete in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur on April 3-6.