Junior golf standout Li headed down home stretch of stellar prep career

Marianne Li after her recent tournament win in California  - Courtesy photo
Marianne Li after her recent tournament win in California
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Marianne Li, a rising senior at Newport High School and one of the state's top prep golfers in the Class of 2015, is anything but new to success on the course.

A two time 4A state tournament participant for the Knights, and multiple time tournament winner on the junior circuit, Li is headed into her final season on the prep course after back-to-back victories at an American Junior Golf Association tournament in Santa Rosa, Calif. and the Ryan Moore Junior Championship in Lakewood.

Li took some time between events to chat with the Reporter about the improvement of her game under Newport coach Frank Nimmo, her plans for her final year with the Knights and a future in the Pac-12 at UC-Berkeley.

BELLEVUE REPORTER: How has your golf game grown during your time at Newport and how has coach Nimmo impacted you as a player and person?

MARIANNE LI: I've had such a great time playing on the Newport golf team these past three years. Everyone on the team has been so supportive of each other and the coaches have done such a great job in keeping it fun and competitive at the same time.

Coach Nimmo has been someone who has supported me throughout my high school career in the decisions I have made. It has meant a lot to have someone like Coach Nimmo who understands what my goals are and has always worked to help me achieve them.

REPORTER: What are your hopes for your last season of high school golf?

LI: For my last season of high school golf I am hoping to bring back some regular season and postseason titles as a team.

We have had a lot of success as a team these past few years and for me it's so great to experience that as the whole team comes together to achieve a goal. We return all of our girls from last year and I am really excited to see everyone and how much they have improved from last year!

REPORTER: Talk about winning the Ryan Moore event, and also playing on the AJGA and Jr. PGA circuits and how that level of competition is preparing you for the future.

LI: Winning the Ryan Moore AJGA event was a pretty big deal for me. I didn't play so well the first two days but I was in the hunt for the win coming down the last few holes and was able to pull it off on the last hole with a birdie. To start my summer off with a win gave me confidence going into the rest of my tournaments this summer.

The very next week I ended up winning the AJGA Junior at Mayacama in Santa Rosa, California.

This summer I was able to qualify for a couple of big tournaments and have been taking in those experiences and learning as I go. The United States Golf Association (USGA) tournaments and Jr. PGA event that I qualified for have shown me what it's like to compete at a high level and what I can improve to get even better. It's been a really fun summer so far competing against the best in the world and seeing how I compare.

REPORTER: Where do you hope your golf game takes you, both with the possibility of playing in college and professionally?

LI: A few months ago in March I gave a verbal commitment to play college golf at UC-Berkeley and cannot wait to continue my golfing career there! As for playing professionally I will wait and see how I play in college.

REPORTER: What advice would you give to a young person thinking about playing golf, or who wants to know what golf can offer them both as a sport and in life?

LI: Golf is a great game to play whether just for fun or if you are looking to see where the game can take you. Not only can you learn life skills like perseverance and courtesy through golf but it is also a game that you can play your whole life. Like many other sports golf is a game of ups and downs, golf can be frustrating, but at the end of the day it is the life skills that the game has instilled in me that remain.

REPORTER: How has your work with The First Tee changed your outlook on your own life and what it means to be part of the golf community?

LI: Starting golf with The First Tee program has been such a tremendous gift for me. I remember when I started 8 years ago with the Greater Seattle branch the coaches were encouraging and made the game fun. Now as a volunteer coach at The First Tee I have been fortunate enough to work with numerous different young golfers who remind me of myself just a few years ago.

A lot of kids that I have worked with don't have their own set of golf clubs  or even their own golf balls, it really puts it into perspective for someone like me who receives a dozen golf balls at almost every tournament I play in.

Playing golf and being able to travel to tournaments has really been a blessing, I have met so many new friends through golf and learned so many new things from them. Even though we compete against each other week in and week out it is really great to get to know them as friends and bond through the game of golf.

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