Li had an Open debut to remember at Royal Birkdale in 2017 when he took third place – easily the best major performance by a male Chinese golfer – after a closing 63 that would have equalled the major record but for the fact that Branden Grace scored the first-ever 62 the previous day. It contained seven birdies in the last 11 holes.
His first appearance in any of the four majors had come only a month before at the U.S. Open and he went into both events ranked outside the world top 100, but early the following season he climbed to a career-high 32nd by beating Rory McIlroy head-to-head for his second European Tour victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Li nearly added to that later in 2018, but he lost a play-off to Justin Rose at the Turkish Airlines Open, the event where he was also a runner-up in 2016.
His maiden European Tour success came aged 20 at the 2016 Volvo China Open with a last-day 64. He won three times on the PGA Tour China in 2014 to top their Order of Merit and qualified both for China’s two-man team at the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2019 Presidents Cup.