PINEHURST, N.C. – Stephanie Liu didn’t even have to announce her match-play prowess to the crowd gathered beside the U.S. Girls’ Junior scoreboard mid-day Thursday. Soobin Kim, her first victim in the day’s marathon matches, did it for her.
After losing to Liu, 3 and 2, in the Round of 32 at the Country Club of North Carolina, Kim announced loudly that she had just received a butt-kicking courtesy of the 13-year-old, showing high esteem for her opponent. Hearing the story later, Liu only smiled and chuckled.
It’s not like the soft-spoken Liu would have made such a statement about her own game, anyway.
“This morning, the first match, we were going into it pretty hard,” Liu said. “I was going 3 up on her. I made a putt for birdie on 16 and it just kind of ended there.”
Liu credits good putting and a lot of help from caddie and brother Kevin for the successful run through the Rounds of 32 and 16. The most impressive of the two matches occurred in the afternoon when Liu took down Cali Hipp, 7 and 6, to tie the second-largest margin of victory so far in this championship. The largest belongs to Mariko Tumangan, who beat Marissa Dodd, 8 and 6, in the Round of 64.
Liu, of St. Albans, Mo., is the newest young gun to beat in Pinehurst as Hipp, prior to falling at the hands of Liu, took down 12-year-old Megan Khang in the Round of 32. It’s OK with Liu, who is making her first run through the match-play bracket in just her second U.S. Girls’ Junior appearance. While Kevin may be essential in helping Stephanie read greens and select clubs this week, he also factored into last year’s missed cut at the Girls’ Junior.
“I had the flu, given to me by Kevin, of course,” Liu said of the 2009 championship. “I tried to hold it together, I had a 103 fever so it didn’t go so well.”
As Stephanie and Kevin provide a tough one-two punch in Pinehurst, brother Brandon, 17, is out of the U.S. Junior Amateur at Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada, Mich. Brandon shot 15-over 159 to miss the cut for match play.
Looks like Liu-family glory hangs on Stephanie for the rest of this week.