U.S. Junior: Jim Liu is medalist again
(Steven Gibbons/USGA)
(Steven Gibbons/USGA)

By Brian DePasquale

TRUCKEE, Calif. (July 23, 2013) — Jim Liu, 17, of Smithtown, N.Y., shot a 5-under-par 67 on Tuesday to earn medalist honors for the second consecutive year in the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the par-72, 7,740-yard Martis Camp Club. Liu, who carded a 69 in the first round, finished at 8-under 136.

Liu, who shared medalist honors with two other players at last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, becomes the third player in the championship’s history to twice earn the stroke-play medal, joining Willie Wood and Tiger Woods. Liu fashioned a bogey-free second round, one stroke off the course record.

The U.S. Junior Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday, July 27, starting at 7 a.m. PDT.

The U.S. Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Liu, the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur champion and the runner-up last year, started on the par-5 10th hole where he had to work hard for a three-putt par. But it was smooth sailing starting on the next hole when he struck a 5-iron to 8 feet for the first of five birdies. Liu made consecutive birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, the second when he hit a wedge to 2 feet. He added a two-putt birdie from 20 feet at the par-5 fourth.

“To be medalist is a good honor,” said Liu, who is participating in his fifth Junior Amateur championship. “It’s something to be happy about. You take these two rounds, know that you’re playing well, and go forward.”

Cameron Young, 16, of Scarborough, N.Y., was two strokes behind Liu with a two-round total of 138. Young, who added a two-under 70 to his first-round 68, made an eagle on the par-5 10th when he sank an 80-foot putt that broke left to right over a ridge. He made up for a hooked 3-wood at the par-4 16th with a 20-foot putt for birdie and ended the round with a 7-foot par putt on No. 18.

“I played really well yesterday but not quite as strong today,” said Young, who added that he is comfortable with the course and has a good feel for his distance at the 6,000-foot altitude. “I will be more aggressive tomorrow, take on more bunkers off the tee, and go at a lot more flagsticks.”

Scottie Scheffler, 17, of Dallas, who owned a piece of the first-round lead with a 67, was three strokes behind Liu with a 36-hole score of 139. He regrouped from a 2-over 38 on the outward nine with birdies on three of his last five holes. Corey Eddings, 17, of Roseville, Calif., who also shared the first-day lead, carded a 2-over 74 in the second round. He was among three players at 3-under 141 overall.

Davis Riley, 16, of Hattiesburg, Miss., shot a 3-under-par 69, and Zachary Bauchou, 17, of Forest, Va., carded his second consecutive 70, as both players completed stroke play at 4-under 140, tied for fourth place. Bauchou, who advanced to the Round of 16 at last year’s Junior Amateur, had six birdies and four bogeys. He capped his round by hitting a 178-yard 8-iron to 15 feet at No. 18 for his third birdie on the inward nine.

“I had two up-and-down rounds,” said Bauchou, who played in U.S. Open sectional qualifying at Rockville, Md., last month. “I made a lot of birdies and a lot of putts. Everything resets [in match play]. When I get to the tee my two 70s are gone. I just have to beat the other guy.”

Riley shot an even-par 36 on the outward nine, but jump-started his second round with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11. He made a 12-foot putt at the par-5 10th, before striking an 8-iron to 2 feet at the par-4 11th. Riley, who reached the Round of 32 at last year’s Junior Amateur, later eagled the 569-yard, par-5 15th. He chased a 4-iron 240 yards to within 8 feet. A bogey at No. 16 left him 4-under overall for the championship.

“I am hitting the ball really well,” said Riley, who started his first round on Monday with an eagle on the par-5 10th. “I feel like if I keep doing what I am doing I will go really far. In match play you are not really worried about the whole field like stroke play.”

Sam Horsfield, 16, of England, and Jorge Antonio Garcia, 17, of Venezuela, joined Eddings in a tie for sixth place with two-round scores of 141. Horsfield added a 1-under-par 71 to his first-round 70. Horsfield, who advanced to match play at the 2012 Junior Amateur and reached the Round of 16 at last week’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, started on the 10th hole. He eagled the par-5 15th by hitting a 5-wood 263 yards to 2 feet.

“It was a good experience to get to the round of 16 at the [Amateur] Public Links last week,” said Horsfield, who won the Florida State Amateur in June and has claimed two consecutive City of Orlando Amateurs. “You are playing against one person; it’s one-on-one.”

Wilson Furr, 15, of Jackson, Miss., shot 1-under-par 71 for the second consecutive day and was among three players with a 36-hole total of 142. Furr, the youngest player in the field to break par on the first day of stroke play, started on the 10th hole and made the turn at 3-under 33. He finished with bogeys on two of his last three holes.

“I made my goal and it’s a great feeling,” said Furr, who played in this year’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Memphis, Tenn. “To make match play is a real good accomplishment. [U.S. Open sectional qualifying] really helped me prepare. It was the most nerve-racking thing I’ve done and I learned from the experience.”

Sean Crocker, 16, of Zimbabwe, and Maverick McNealy, 17, of Portola Valley, Calif., rebounded in the second round’s morning wave after digging themselves a hole with first-round scores in the high 70s. Both were able to move on to match play.

Crocker, who was the low amateur at the Zimbabwe Open in April and played in last month’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Newport Beach, Calif., began with a 5-over-par 77 in the opening round of stroke play. But Crocker, who started on the 10th hole on Tuesday, made four consecutive birdies on his second nine to card a 3-under 69.

McNealy, a quarterfinalist at last year’s U.S. Junior Amateur, struggled to a 6-over 78 in the first round with a pair of double bogeys. But he regrouped with a second-round 69, highlighted by an eagle at the drivable 323-yard, par-4 16th.

Zecheng Dou, 16, of the People’s Republic of China, made a 10-stroke improvement from the first day by shooting a 2-under 70. He advanced to the quarterfinals at last week’s U.S. Amateur Public Links.

Twelve players who tied for 57th place at 7-over 151 will play off for the final eight match-play berths. The playoff was halted due to darkness after one hole and will resume Wednesday at 7:30 a.m.

ABOUT THE U.S. Junior Amateur

While it is not the oldest competition, the U.S. Junior Amateur is considered the premier junior competition, having been around since 1948. The event is open to male golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 6.4. The U.S. Junior is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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