Stratham, N.H. – Jim Liu, 16, of Smithtown, N.Y., Matthew Scobie, 16, of Canada, Nicolas Echavarria, 17, of Colombia and Andy Hyeon Bo Shim, 17, of Duluth, Ga., have advanced to Friday afternoon's semifinals in the U.S. Junior Amateur at the 7,125-yard, par-72 Golf Club of New England.
Liu defeated Nicolo Galletti, 17, of Pleasanton, Calif., 3 and 2. Liu took the lead early with a birdie on the third hole and never relinquished it. Playing his most consistent golf of the championship, Liu, the 2010 champion, made four birdies and no bogeys. He went 3 up with a par on the 13th hole and parred the next three holes to win the match.
“We both played pretty well,” Liu said of his contest with Galletti. “Nicolo had a couple of great saves on early holes.”
Galletti paid tribute to his opponent, saying he played great. “I just didn’t make any putts today but I learned a lot this week,” he said. “It was fun.”
Liu faces Matthew Scobie, 16, of Canada in an afternoon semifinal match. Scobie narrowly defeated Maverick McNealy, 17, of Portola Valley, Calif. Scobie was 4 up through the eighth hole when McNealy began to fight back.
Starting with the ninth, McNealy won three straight holes with two birdies and a bogey. Scobie won the 12th and 14th holes with birdies to regain a 3-up lead, but on the 15th and 16th holes, McNealy hit his approach shots to within inches of the hole, made two birdies and was dormie-1.
McNealy answered back with a par on the 18th to square the match and they went extra holes. After both players parred the 19th hole, Scobie won the 20th hole and the match with a par.
“It was a battle,” Scobie said. “Mav played some great golf. We were both making birdies and battling hard. I’m just glad I could make it through the adversity.”
Scobie is prepared to face Liu in the afternoon. “I need to play my own ball and just play golf,” Scobie said. “The match will be what you make of it. He is obviously a past champion, so it is already established that it will be a good battle.”
Echavarria held on to win his match with Branson Davis, 17, of McKinney, Texas. The Colombian was 3 up after the 11th hole but Davis made four birdies in the next six holes, to Echavarria’s single birdie, to square the match.
Echavarria was complimentary. “He made two birdies on the hardest holes on the course, 15 and 17. I didn’t lose those holes. He won them.”
Echavarria won the 18th hole with a bogey to Davis’ double-bogey to win the match, 1 up. He will play Andy Hyeon Bo Shim, 17, of Duluth, Ga., in the semifinals.
Shim defeated Joo-Young Lee, 17, of Hilliard, Ohio, 4 and 2. The turning point in his match, Shim said, came early. With Lee 1 up after three holes, on the fourth Shim stood over a 30-yard chip shot from the rough. Using a wedge, Shim hit a bump-and-run shot and holed it for a birdie to win the hole and square the match.
“I was 1 down and I went even,” Shim said. “After that, I didn’t miss many shots out there.”
The afternoon semifinals will reduce the field to two players who will contend for the championship in a scheduled 36-hole final on Saturday.
Rhonda Glenn is a manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at email@example.com.