From Tianlang Guan’s Asia Pacific Amateur victory to Beau Hossler’s memorable U.S. Open performance at the Olympic Club, 2012 was a year to remember for boys junior golf.
Over the course of 10 days, we’ll bring you the top 10 players of the year starting at No. 10 and ending with the player who we think had the most impressive season.
Who will be No. 1? Who else will make the list? Keep checking back to find out as we continue with No. 6 on our list: Jim Liu.
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No. 6: Jim Liu
Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: 2
Credentials: U.S. Junior Amateur (runner-up); Puerto Rico Junior (T-2); Junior Players (third); Ping Invitational (T-9); Junior PGA Championship (T-6); New Year’s Invitational (T-2); Terra Cotta Invitational (T-2); Azalea Invitational (second); Metropolitan Open (T-11); North & South Amateur (T-17); Jones Cup (T-18); European Tour Qualifying School: First Stage (T-12); Junior Ryder Cup participant.
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Much was made of Liu’s so-called “collapses” in 2012. There was the Junior PGA Championship where he led after two rounds only to finish T-6. Then there was the Junior Players Championship where he was tied with Robby Shelton for the lead heading into the final round only to shoot 77 and fall back to third. And you can’t forget the U.S. Junior Amateur where he surrendered a 5-up lead after 18 holes to lose on the 23rd hole in his final match against Andy Shim.
Those shortcomings sparked questions. How come the former U.S. Junior champ couldn’t seal the deal? How long would it be before he won a meaningful tournament again? What was wrong with Liu?
But before we can go ahead and label Liu’s season a disappointment, we must remember he’s still one of the most talented golfers his age on the planet and the bar has been set pretty high. He’s signed to play at one of the most prestigious colleges in the country – Stanford. And while he didn’t win those tournaments, he still put up very good results.
To put it in simpler terms: Liu was a top-10 machine in 2012, and that’s why his season is up there with the best of them this year.
Liu kicked off the year with T-2 showings at the Puerto Rico Junior and New Year’s Invitational. He then finished runner-up at the Azalea Invitational and T-2 at the Terra Cotta Invitational before entering the U.S. Junior in Stratham, N.H.
It was there that he took medalist honors and made a dominant run through the match-play bracket. He then took that commanding lead halfway through his championship match with Andy Shim and looked to be on his way to a second U.S. Junior title. But then Shim put together the largest comeback in tournament history to deny Liu the crown.
Liu collected three more top 10s – Junior PGA, Junior Players and Ping Invitational – to close his junior season. He also was a member of the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team.
That’s not too shabby a year for anyone – even Liu.
It seems like Liu has been around forever since his U.S. Junior victory in 2010. And it’s hard to believe he’ll be taking his talents to the collegiate level next fall. But if this was his final full junior campaign – Liu says he’s lightening his junior schedule to focus more on amateur events – it was a memorable one.