Jim Liu of Smithtown and Matt Lowe of Farmingdale have been two of the top Long Island golfers for a few years and, as Lowe said Wednesday, "I've known him forever."
The only thing they never had done until Wednesday was play golf together. They made up for lost time.
At Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., during the first round of the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, they played a dramatic back-and-forth match that was tied after 18. On the first extra hole, Liu, a former winner of the tournament, won with an 8-foot birdie putt.
It was an eventful week for the 17-year-olds, who both were good enough at 13 to try to qualify for the 2009 U.S. Open.
Liu, who broke Tiger Woods' record as the youngest junior amateur champion at 14, was the medalist in the 36-hole stroke- play qualifier for the second consecutive year. And Lowe looked like he wasn't going to make it to the match-play phase, but won a four-way playoff for one spot with a downhill birdie putt on No. 18 Wednesday morning. That earned Lowe the match with the top seed.
The match could not have been closer. Lowe was 1 up after 14; Liu was 1 up after 17. Lowe made a par on 18 to tie it.
"That's golf," Liu said. "You can't expect to play well every day. It's about the days where you don't have your best game and you just grind it out. I just tried to stay patient out there. As long as you have more holes to play you have a shot. That's the mindset I had."
Lowe agreed that neither played great, adding, "I didn't think there was any chance he was going to miss that putt . He had that same exact putt this morning. I didn't think he was going to miss it twice in a row."