At the 2008 US Women’s Open, 19-year-old South Korean prodigy Inbee Park made history by becoming the youngest champion in the tournament’s history. This marked the beginning of her impressive collection of seven major championships.
Bella Simões would not come into the world for approximately six more years. On Tuesday, she made an effort to meet the requirements for the main event.
At nine years old, the Brazilian is the youngest player ever to attempt qualification to the tournament, set to tee off at California’s acclaimed Pebble Beach course for the first time in its 78-year history in July.
The first shot of her qualifying group at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Florida was hit by Simões. Her swing technique was flawless, as seen on the USGA’s Twitter account, and received many compliments.
The #USWomensOpen has officially commenced!
Bella Simoes, who is nine years old, made the initial shot.
Please join us at @FSGA ➡️ https://t.co/622czXdhXk pic.twitter.com/4aYolLLL21
— U.S. Women’s Open (@uswomensopen) May 9, 2023
It is not unexpected, considering Simões’ impressive track record, that she achieved another win in the US Kids Golf World championship. She was the champion for the under-seven category in 2020, successfully defending her title the following year and then winning in the eight-year-old category in 2022.
This is a prestigious youth tournament that has been won by notable players such as World No. 7 and 2014 Chevron Championship winner Lexi Thompson, who became a top player after winning the tournament twice.
At just 12 years old, Thompson became the youngest golfer to ever qualify for the US Women’s Open in 2007.
Golf’s greatest-ever prodigies
Simões has a few remaining chances to take the title, but will have to wait at least another year after placing tied for 59th out of 67 players. The Brazilian ended with a score of 23-over par, while Lindy Duncan and Brooke Matthews both qualified automatically with scores of 10-under and 8-under, respectively.
The USGA has reported that the number of entries for the upcoming championship in July has reached a new record, with 2,107 applicants from 47 US states and 62 countries. This surpasses the previous record of 1,874, which was set last year when Minjee Lee won the tournament at Pine Needles.
To qualify, players must have a handicap index of 2.4 or lower, or be a professional. Some groups, such as the last 10 winners and the top 75 ranked players, are automatically invited and do not need to qualify.
According to the USGA, Kimberly Williams, a 60-year-old professional from Bethesda, Maryland, was the oldest player to participate in qualification this year.