U.S. JUNIOR AMATEUR
An Interview With Jim Liu July 23, 2010 By USGA

Q.  What's going through your head right now?

JIM LIU:  I'm just excited.  I mean, it hasn't really sunk in yet.   

Q.  You come into this week ‑‑ And I was talking to your dad, and he said you really just wanted to qualify to be able to be exempt from next year, like that was your goal.  I mean, what was your whole expectation coming into this tournament?

JIM LIU:  My expectations were just ‑‑ I knew if I played well I'd go as far as it would take me.  But my goal coming in, I was trying to just to be able to come back next year without having to qualify.  That was, like, my goal because last year I missed it by one round. So it was kind of a bummer, but I guess I made it up this year. 

Q.  Pretty unbelievable performance in that you led almost the entire day ‑‑ at least from the back 9 in your opening 18 all the way through.  Did you have any moments of panic, or were you just on cruise control?

JIM LIU:  I was never on cruise control.  But, I mean, Justin is a great player and he made a lot of good shots.  And I was just able to match it.  I knew I had to play really good to be able to hold him off, and I did that.

Q.  Was it different playing with someone like Justin who you knew rather than maybe most of the other guys?

JIM LIU:  It made it a lot more fun out there.  I had a great time out there.  But a competitor is still a competitor, and I try to treat it as that. But we still had a great time, and we're still great friends.

Q.  What was going through your mind after he birdied 12 ‑‑ or the par 5 when he cut it to one up, 13?  It looked like you still stayed pretty composed despite he had one left (indiscernible).

JIM LIU:  I thought to myself I still had the lead.  If I kept making pars, he would have to keep making birdies coming in on pretty hard holes in order to catch me.  Just tried to stay in the moment.

Q.  Jim, your opening round was the equivalent of a 64 which under the conditions is quite remarkable.  Thoughts on that?

JIM LIU:  I just started hitting it at the flags, and it just stuck right next to the hole.  And we made ‑‑ Justin and I made a lot of birdies.  I think we had 16 birdies between us.  And we played great golf in the morning.

Q.  Justin said this is probably the best he has seen you putt in a given tournament.  Speak to that, how important putting is when it comes to match play.

JIM LIU:  Putting is a huge part of match play.  If you can make the putt, it puts pressure on your opponent.  And it's just about the entire game when it comes down to the last couple putts.

Q.  Jim, you guys end the last two holes of the morning session with birdie.  How difficult was it to keep the momentum after the hour lunch break and go back out there?  You both hit it close on one, so I guess it wasn't too difficult.

JIM LIU:  I just tried to stay calm and not get ahead of myself.  The most important thing is just stay in the moment and don't try and get ahead of yourself.

Q.  Jim, your thoughts about breaking Tiger's record and being the youngest champion for this event.

JIM LIU:  It is an honor to be just a part of the list of champions.  But to break Tiger's record is just a big plus.  I have never thought I would do it, but it just happened to be my year this year.

Q.  Jim, you've had great success at every level ever since you were really young with, I think, the four‑time U.S. Kids.  Is that right?

JIM LIU:  Yeah.

Q.  So this is, you know, just another stepping stone, it would seem.  What's next? 

JIM LIU:  I hope that this is just another stepping stone.  A lot of players after winning a big one, they kind of fade away.  I mean, I have to try and not do that.  But if I keep playing the way I am and I keep getting better, I should be fine.

Q.  What are your goals now?

JIM LIU:  Hopefully come back and try and get myself in this position again next year.

Q.  Jim, what do you think about the gallery, especially there toward the end?  It just kept getting bigger and bigger each hole. 

JIM LIU:  Yeah, the gallery was huge.  I mean, after a couple tee shots, I couldn't see Justin because the galleries were just all around us. But they were really nice, and they helped the both of us and supported the both of us.

Q.  Have you ever played in front of that big of a crowd?

JIM LIU:  I haven't, no.

Q.  Was it a little nerve wracking having so many people around you when you are putting?

JIM LIU:  Not bad.  I don't really think of it as much of a factor.  It is kind of cool having a lot of people follow you, though.

Q.  This has been a pretty big year for you after the win at the Junior Heritage.  Would you consider this your breakout year?

JIM LIU:  Yeah, I would.  I have played really well this year.  And to win a national tournament and then a USGA championship in the same year is just amazing.  But I never thought I would be able to do this.

Q.  How was your form coming into these couple tournaments?  Had you been building up to this so you sort of expected it?

JIM LIU:  I didn't expect to go so far.  I knew that I was playing well, and I tried to just get past quarters and make it past what I did last year.And then things started to click for me when I got here, so it just happened to be my year, I guess.

Q.  What sort of clicked for you after the stroke play?  I mean, you had a pretty mediocre showing in stroke play, and then you just really turned it on.  Did you find something in your game after those first two rounds?

JIM LIU:  The first two rounds I either hit the ball good or I putted well.  I just didn't do it in the same round.  After stroke play, I started to do it in the same round.  I think that's just a matter of time and luck.

Q.  Talk about your relationship with your coach a little bit, John.

JIM LIU:  He's a great gentleman.  I started taking lessons from him, I think, eight years ago.  And he's a great coach.  He never forces me to do anything, but he helps me the entire way here.  And this win means a lot for him and me as well.

Q.  How often do you think ‑‑ He's in California, right?

JIM LIU:  Yeah.

Q.  How often do you work with him a year?

JIM LIU:  I think three or four times a year.

Q.  That's it?  During your spring break?

JIM LIU:  Mostly during my school breaks I try to go out and see him if I'm struggling with something.

Q.  He's 89, right?

JIM LIU:  Yeah.

Q.  He's still with it and pretty ‑‑

JIM LIU:  Yeah, he keeps up.  I mean, he's flexible and he still plays golf every day.

Q.  Does he really?

JIM LIU:  Oh, I think he plays once every week, but I think he tries to swing a couple balls every day.

Q.  And you talk to him on the phone pretty regularly?

JIM LIU:  I actually haven't talked to him on the phone recently, but I'll call him once in a while.

Q.  What's he going to think about this when you tell him you won today?

JIM LIU:  I think he's going to be proud of me.  We've been working hard, and this finally has paid off.

Q.  He was Tiger's old coach?

JIM LIU:  Yeah, he was Tiger's second coach after Rudy, I think it was.

Q.  So before his Juniors ‑‑ I guess he was working with him during his Junior run?

JIM LIU:  He was working with him during his Juniors and a few of his Amateur wins.

Q.  That's pretty remarkable, worked with both when they're so young.  What do you have coming up?

JIM LIU:  I'm playing the Porter Cup in a couple days. 

Q.  And then after that?

JIM LIU:  U.S. Amateur.

Q.  Good luck the rest of the way.