Jim Liu of Smithtown, N.Y., surpassed Tiger Woods as the youngest champion in U.S. Junior Amateur history last June when he defeated Justin Thomas in the 36-hole final at Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada, Mich. Freelance writer Evan Rothman talked with Liu about what he learned in winning this prestigious championship and making history.
It was a grueling week, both physically and mentally. But it wasn’t until after the tournament that I just felt exhausted. I guess I was in the zone.
I knew that I’d have to play my absolute best to win. But I didn’t expect everything to come together that week.
I was eight under through 11 holes in my second-round match. Everything clicked that day, and I thought, If I can keep this going I’ve got a shot at this.
Winning a USGA title is very different. The USGA has the biggest championships in all of golf. It’s a great honor to be a USGA champion. It’s something I can cherish the rest of my life.
To win the championship with my dad watching meant a lot, since my parents have done so much to support me. It felt really great to have my dad there to share the moment with.
I played a lot of tournaments when I was younger. I won the U.S. Kids World Championship four times. During the [Junior Amateur] finals, I knew that I’ve been in big situations before and I’ve pulled through before.
The best golf advice I ever got came from my coach, John Anselmo. He always tells me to play within myself and not to force anything, to just let it happen.
My dad always tells me to enjoy what I’m doing. I’ve been following that, and I think it’s why I’ve had success both with golf and in school.
I keep the trophy downstairs in my house, and I pass by it every day. It never gets old looking at it, I can tell you that.
Seeing Eldrick Tiger Woods’ name three times in a row on the trophy, it’s pretty special every time I see that.
It’s a great honor just to be a part of the list of champions. Breaking the record for youngest winner was a great plus, but it was never in the front of my mind.
I’d like to repeat, and I’m working as hard as I can to do it.