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USGA looking into Lucy Li's participation in Apple ad campaign

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Lucy Li's appearance in a recent advertisement for Apple has caught the attention of the United States Golf Association.

Li, a 16-year-old amateur golfer who is ranked ninth in the world, was one of the subjects for a new Apple Watch ad campaign, which includes a video of Li hitting golf shots in a number of settings wearing the company's watch. Apple released the ad last week, and the USGA is now looking into the matter and gathering more information that could determine if Li violated any terms of her amateur status.

“The USGA was made aware of this yesterday and we’ve reached out to Lucy’s family to learn more about her participation in these videos," the USGA said in a statement sent to GolfChannel.com. "We are at the beginning of the fact-finding stage, and it’s premature at this point to discuss more. Lucy’s family has been fully cooperative and we are thankful for the dialogue.”

Li shared a tweet from Apple that linked to the video and a page where Li is featured prominently. The tweet reads, "Sit less. Move more. Get some exercise. Apple Watch owners like Lucy make it their goal to do all three every day. Learn more."

Li told Golf Digest that she could not discuss the video because of a non-disclosure agreement that she signed with Apple. Digest also reported that Li's mother, Amy, said that her daughter and her family did not receive compensation from Apple.

But Li does not have to have received financial payment to have broken a rule.

Rule 6-2 of the USGA's Rules of Amateur Status addresses the use of golf skill or reputation for promotion, advertising and sales:

"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.

"In the context of this Rule, even if no payment or compensation is received, an amateur golfer is deemed to receive a personal benefit by promoting, advertising or selling anything, or allowing his name or likeness to be used by a third party for the promotion, advertisement or sale of anything."

Rule 2-2b also touches on professionalism and contracts with sponsors:

"An amateur golfer may enter into a contract and/or agreement with a third party (including but not limited to a professional agent or a sponsor), provided(i) the golfer is at least 18 years of age, (ii) the contract or agreement is solely in relation to the golfer's future as a professional golfer and does not stipulate playing in certain amateur or professional events as an amateur golfer, and (iii) except as otherwise provided in the Rules, the amateur golfer does not obtain payment, compensation or any financial gain, directly or indirectly, while still an amateur golfer."

There are exceptions. Amateurs may allow their name or likeness to be used to promote a golf union or association, recognized charity and any golf competition that contributes to the development of the game. Also, golfers under the age of 18 can apply to the USGA for an exception provided it is a special individual circumstance and the contract is non-renewable and not longer than 12 months.