What a crazy and exciting week from the world of amateur golf! I was in Ada, Mich., for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, where Jim Liu became the event’s youngest champion. Who did he surpass in the record books? That would be Mr. Tiger Woods.
Just because I was at the U.S. Junior doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention to the rest of the amateur golf world.
Here are my top five observations from the week.
1. Respect your elders. How about the 42-year-old who won the Palmetto Amateur? Todd White outlasted two others in a five-hole playoff at Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, S.C. We often see a college player or up-and-coming teenager steal the show during the amateur season. This time we saw White, a member of the Hall of Fame at Furman University, add his name to record books by becoming the 2010 Palmetto Amateur champion.
2. Who’s the favorite for the U.S. Women’s Amateur? Keep an eye on Cydney Clanton. She won the North and South Women’s Amateur Saturday, a year after finishing as runner-up at Pinehurst. The U.S. Curtis Cup participant defeated Lisa McCloskey, 3 and 1. Clanton, made it to the Round of 16 at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur, won her singles match at the Curtis Cup earlier this summer and has a perfect 7-0 head-to-head record heading to the Women’s Amateur.
3. Another favorite? Better circle Lisa McCloskey on your Women’s Am match play bracket, too. In two tournaments that use match play to determine a champion – North & South and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links – McCloskey has been runner-up twice. In June, Emily Tubert defeated McCloskey in the finals of the WAPL. That’s quite a statement getting to the championship match twice in the same summer. Let’s see if she can make it a hat trick in August at Charlotte Country Club.
4. Where are the big-name players? As the Women’s Amateur draws near, I’ve been scratching my head trying to determine what big names will play at the big event. Think about this for a second: The defending champion, Jennifer Song, turned pro; teen standout Alexis Thompson turned pro; Jennifer Johnson, last year’s Women’s Am finalist, turned pro. See a pattern? What about the youngest Women’s Amateur champion and “Queen of match play” Kimberly Kim? Oh yeah, she turned pro, too. It will feel weird this year knowing that four of the biggest names from a year ago are all gone. And it’s really weird knowing that only one of these four girls isn’t a teenager (Jennifer Song).
5. Look out Tiger. Jim Liu, 14, is now the youngest U.S. Junior champion. He is a little over seven months younger than Woods was when he won the first of his three Junior titles. Why am I mentioning the U.S. Junior in this blog? Because come next summer, amateur golf fans may be seeing a lot more of Liu at amateur events. It seems logical that amateur tournaments would invite the youngest Junior champ ever. We often see junior golfers compete in big amateur events. Remember the name Jim Liu, because you may be hearing it a lot more next summer.