Jim Liu of Smithtown said goodbye to his junior golf career Thursday with a loss in the kind of dramatic, competitive match he has been playing since he was only slightly taller than his clubs. Now it is on to Stanford, and possibly the Walker Cup.
"We all know there's only one automatic spot," the 17-year-old said, referring to the notion that the U.S. Amateur champion makes the American team for the prestigious international match, which will be held this September at National Golf Links in Southampton. So Liu is looking to win the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club outside Boston next month. "That's the only option now."
A day after he scored a 19-hole win over fellow Long Islander Matt Lowe in the U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., Liu Thursday lost a 20-hole second-round match to John Augenstein of Owensboro, Ky. Liu forced extra holes by making birdie on No. 17. But his second shot on the par-4 second (the 20th hole) fell short and he made bogey.
Still, it was an eventful junior run, especially in the national championship. He was the medalist -- meaning he had the lowest stroke-play qualifying score -- each of the past two years. Liu, at 14, won the event in 2010, breaking Tiger Woods' record for being the youngest champion and reached the final again last year.
"Looking back, I didn't do too poorly," he said to a U.S. Golf Association communications official. "I mean, I have every medal this championship has to offer. I'm disappointed, but I still did pretty well in this championship overall."
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