Veteran Liu ties for U.S. Junior Am medalist honors
STRATHAM, N.H. – Yes, it seems like Jim Liu has been around forever.
This is the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur champion's fourth appearance at the USGA's premier junior event. He’s trying to become the third golfer in history to win the tournament twice – Jordan Spieth and a fellow by the name of Tiger Woods are the others.
And he’s still just 16.
“All of my friends, basically, they’ve moved on to college golf, and some have already turned pro,” said Liu, whose first appearance in the U.S. Junior came in 2009 at age 13. “It’s kind of strange seeing new faces, but that’s just what happens when you come in real young.”
Liu tied for medalist honors at the Golf Club of New England on Tuesday, shooting 1-under 71 and finishing two rounds of stroke play at 3 under along Nicolas Echavarria and Shintaro Ban.
The youngest U.S. Junior champion in history when he won two years ago, Liu is now the seasoned veteran. And it showed early on Tuesday.
Liu birdied five of his nine holes on the front nine, including four straight, on Nos. 5-8.
“It was an easy stretch of golf,” Liu said.
But then he started to cool off. Liu doubled No. 9 after hitting 3-wood into the woods and then added a second double on No. 13, where his tee shot looked to be in play, but then seemingly disappeared.
“I hit it dead straight where I was aiming and it just fell out of the sky, I guess,” said Liu, who could not find the ball within the allotted five minutes and was forced to return to the tee for his third shot.
“It was kind of tough (after that) because the front nine I played so well. Two doubles is a pretty severe change of events, so from then on, I just tried to start again.”
He closed with five consecutive pars – a testament of his experience – although he’ll enter match play Wednesday in an unfamiliar position as a top seed. He finished T-27 after stroke play in 2010 and was T-24 entering match play last year.
Now he has to handle being highly seeded.
Not that he wouldn’t have a target on his back anyway.