Lily May Humphreys, who is set to be the first new English player to make the European Junior Solheim Cup team since Georgia Hall and Bronte Law in 2013, is 17 years of age and has a handicap – wait for it – of plus-5.7. As for what she likes to be called, it is “Lily” pure and simple. She says that her parents, Rob and Sue, sometimes call her Lily May, “but that only happens when I’m in trouble, usually for leaving my clothes all over the place.”
Lily’s progress has been dynamic. In 2017, she knew nothing of the qualifying events for the Junior Solheim Cup until after the team had been picked, which wasn’t a lot of use. Since then, she has more than made up for lost time and, this year alone, has won three prominent European amateur tournaments in the Irish and Welsh Women’s Stroke Play championships and the Annika Invitational Europe. In the Annika Invitational, arguably the most prestigious European junior event of them all, she had scores of 69, 68 and 70 (12-under par) to beat five players in the top 100 on the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. She promptly leapt to 29th place on that world order while making a similar jump up the Junior Solheim table to perch in sixth place for a team which consists of six automatic qualifiers and six wild cards.
Annika herself was on hand. “Well done and what great scoring,” said this 10-time major winner.
Having been introduced to the game at the TopGolf centre in Chelmsford by her older brother, Jack, Lily started to irritate the boys at her club when she was 11. Then a 21 handicapper, she suddenly played to five in a Stableford – a feat which resulted in those boys declaring that she was an out-and-out bandit. Rather like the late two-time British Amateur champion, Marley Harris, she had bagged in excess of 50 points.
“If I turn professional at the end of next year I won’t be needing exams.” – Lily May Humphreys
Marley, as plenty of our older readers may remember, was a dancer at the Colosseum who, on a soaking wet day in London, had sought shelter in the Harrods golf department and found herself with no option but to sign on for a lesson.
She joined a club a few days later and, shortly after being awarded a first handicap of 31, embarked on the Stableford in question with another beginner and came back to base with 58 points. When her sister competitors insisted that she was not the novice she purported to be, she was reduced to tears. “It was so different,” she said, “to my days in the theatre where everyone called you ‘Darling’ even if they didn’t mean it.”
When Lily collected her 52 points, everyone was delighted for her, other, of course, than those boys. They hated having to play against her in the various junior knock-outs and she will never forget that day when, after she and some lower-handicap lad finished level after 18 holes, the boy erupted on learning that he would have to carry on giving her strokes in the play-off.
Lily cannot wait to tee up in the Junior Solheim, while she speaks with much the same eager anticipation about having the opportunity to watch such senior stars as Georgia Hall, Charley Hull and Lexi Thompson in the main match.
In keeping with many of today’s young golfers, including Hull and Thompson, Lily has been home-schooled. In her case, she has managed in the process to steer clear of anything in the way of an exam – at least so far. “If I turn professional at the end of next year I won’t be needing exams,” she says.
In golf, on the other hand, she cannot wait for the next test and, when you ask her to name her equivalent of a best subject, she opts for scrambling. “I’m probably better than my peers when it comes to turning possible bogeys into pars and even birdies.”
On top of that, she has no fear – of Americans or anyone else. “When I make a mistake,” she said, “I don’t let it worry me. I think about it for a few seconds and then I forget.”
Lily May Humphreys of England during the second round of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Photo: David Cannon, Getty Images
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