Junior boys notes: Shim's college future uncertain

Andy Hyeon Bo Shim defeated Jim Liu, 4 and 3, to win the 2012 U.S. Junior Amateur at the Golf Club of New England in Stratham, N.H.

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Several high-profile colleges were well represented last week at the U.S. Junior Amateur in Stratham, N.H.

Stanford commit Jim Liu (class of 2013) made it to the final while another future Cardinal, Maverick McNealy (2013), advanced to the quarterfinals.

Arkansas signee Nicolas Echavarria (2012) made it to the semifinals for the second straight year. Arizona State commit Nicolo Galletti (2013) and Georgia commit Branson Davis (2013) made it to the quarterfinals.

But no college could claim the eventual winner at the Golf Club of New England. Andy Shim rallied from 5 down to beat Jim Liu. But unlike Liu, Shim, who is home-schooled, is unsure of his college plans.

Shim, who turns 18 on Nov. 19 but is listed as a member of the class of 2013, moved to Duluth, Ga., from South Korea three years ago and has yet to accumulate the credits needed to qualify for college.

“I really want to play in college,” Shim said. “I could speak, but my grades are really low, so I don’t know what kind of college would want me.”

Sure, after his performance at the U.S. Junior, just about every college would figure to have some sort of interest in Shim. But Shim essentially took a year off from school to practice his game, and still figures he’ll need another year to get his grades straightened out.

“To win this tournament, I had to practice a lot of golf,” said Shim, who climbed up to No. 24 in the Golfweek/Sagarin junior boys rankings. “For school, I tried to take a year off, so all I’m going to do is try to slow down for school. I’m still going to try and finish my school as early as possible, but I want to be a good golfer. I like golf more than school.”

His recent success could factor into his college decision, and if he does well at the U.S. Amateur next month, we could be seeing Shim turning pro before he steps into a college classroom.

• • •

RAINY VICTORY: While the U.S. Junior Amateur garnered much of the attention last week, it wasn’t the only junior tournament taking place.

The Under Armour/Jeff Overton Championship in Huntsville, Ala., was reduced to 45 holes because of rain and fog, but that didn’t stop Blake Messer of Hampton Cove, Ala., from taking the title.

Messer shot a 5-under 31 in the shortened final round to finish at 2-under 176 and force a playoff with three others. Messer then defeated John Yi, Jared O’Kelley and Charlie Flowers, all from the state of Georgia, to win the championship.

“I hit the ball wonderfully during the whole tournament,” Messer said, “but I couldn't get the putter working. I got lucky because I finished before the rain delay yesterday, so I didn't have to wait or anything. I started playing and was 3 under through the first four holes, and I realized I had a shot at tying for the winning spot.”

• • •

OTHER WINNERS: Alexander Levy, of Austin, Texas, took the Aaron’s/Bob Estes Abilene Junior at the Abilene (Texas) Country Club’s Fairway course. Levy shot a final-round, 4-under 68 to finish a 4-under 212, besting runner-up William Martinez by two strokes. . . . Luis Gagne, of Orlando, Fla., shot two rounds in the 60s, finishing at 7-under 206 to win the Nebraska Junior at Quarry Oaks in Ashland, Neb. . . . Jakob Garstecki, of Germantown, Wis., shot 1-under 71 to overtake second-round leader Jonathan Goldstein and win the Midwest Junior Players at Hilton Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, Ill., with a three-round total of 6-under 210. . . . Robert Deng, of Irvine, Calif., took the Deutsche Bank Partners for Charity Junior at The GC of Cape Cod in East Falmouth, Mass., by four strokes, carding 73-69-71 for a 3-under 213. . . . Kevin Murphy cruised to a seven-shot win at the AJGA Junior at Centennial GC in Medford, Ore. Murphy went 67-67-69 to finish at 13-under 203.

• • •

LOOKING AHEAD: Six AJGA-recognized tournaments are already underway this week, highlighted by the Wyndham Cup at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., and the Vaughn Taylor Championship at Jones Creek GC in Augusta, Ga. Andy Zhang, a 2012 U.S. Open qualifier and 2012 U.S. Junior Amateur match play qualifier, is among those in the field at Jones Creek. . . . Steve Marino will host his second AJGA event, the Under Armour/Steve Marino Championship, July 30-Aug. 2 at Bethesda (Md.) Country Club. . . . Also among the events taking place next week, the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior at Rivercut GC in Springfield, Mo., and the Junior PGA Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind., July 31-Aug. 3.

Information from AJGA was used in this report.

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