Locals play well at U.S. Open qualifier

Smithtown's Jim Liu tees off at Canoe Brook

Smithtown's Jim Liu tees off at Canoe Brook Country Club. Jim is hoping to make the cut during sectional qualifying for the 112th U.S. Open Championship. (June 4, 2012) (Credit: Steven Sunshine)

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SUMMIT, N.J. -- There is hope up ahead, and plenty of it. That feeling was shared by two Long Island 16-year-olds who played quite well in the sectional U.S. Open qualifier Monday, and the Long Island pro twice their age who played even better, but felt much worse.

Teenagers Jim Liu of Smithtown and Matt Lowe of Farmingdale shot par through 36 pressure-filled holes at Canoe Brook Country Club, tying for 14th in an event that offered spots in the U.S. Open to the top four. Both finished strongly and optimistically.

"I'm always optimistic, always looking for a brighter future," said Lowe, who shot 2-under-par 70 on the tougher North Course in the afternoon session.

Liu played alongside Cameron Wilson, a Stanford sophomore from Connecticut, who made the Open and beat everyone with his 6-under total. It was full of portent because Liu, a junior at Knox School, already has committed to Stanford and will be Wilson's teammate in two years.

"Cameron is a good friend of mine, he's a great dude," Liu said after finishing with a 71 on the North. "I'm definitely taking a lot of positives from the second round, I hit a lot of great shots. I just missed a couple of opportunities out there, so I can't be too upset with myself."

The same could not be said by Joe Horowitz, a mini-tour pro from Long Beach, who seemed all but certain of at least a playoff for the final Open berth on the relatively easy par-5 18th hole. He hit two perfect shots, but then hit his half-wedge short, hit his chip 7 feet short and left his putt short. His bogey left him at 3 under, in a four-way playoff for two alternate spots. He and Long Island native Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner and 2011 U.S. Open participant, both lost that.

So Horowitz, 32, will not make a trip to the Open, as will Wilson and his fellow qualifiers: Nationwide Tour player Jim Herman and New Jersey club pros Brian Gaffney and Mark McCormick.

"This one is going to hurt. A lot. Especially when it's on TV and all your friends are playing in it," Horwitz said on his way back to the clubhouse. "When you have a tournament like the U.S. Open and you miss by one shot, you're absolutely going to second-guess yourself, especially when you bogey the last hole.

"This is not the end for me by any means," said the man who also is a musician, composer and board member of Ron Darling's charitable foundation. "I've definitely gotten better over the last few years. You just keep going."

At about 7 last evening, he said: "The good thing is, tomorrow, I have the Long Island Open. Eight o'clock in the morning. I'll be there. I'll be there with bells on."

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