Stratham, N.H. – Jim Liu, 16, of Smithtown, N.Y., took a 5-up lead over Andy Hyeon Bo Shim, 17, of Duluth, Ga., after 18 holes of Saturday’s scheduled 36-hole final in the U.S. Junior Amateur at the 7,125-yard, par-72 Golf Club of New England.
Liu, the 2010 champion, has played steadily all week. But it was Shim who roared out of the starting gate, with three birdies on the first three holes, two of them matched by Liu, to take a 2-up lead. Shim seemed to run out of steam on the fifth hole, which he bogeyed to Liu’s par to square the match.
Shim then went four over par over the next three holes, which Liu played steadily to take a 3-up lead after six. Shim, the 2012 Georgia State Boys Junior Champion, settled down with a birdie-3 at the ninth hole to get back within two holes of Liu.
Both players birdied the par-5 10th hole. Shim made another bogey to lose the 11th, but rebounded with a birdie at the 12th and Liu again led, 2 up. Another exchange occurred on the 14th hole. Liu birdied to Shim’s par and again went 3 up.
The past champion made another birdie on the par-5 15th hole and went 4 up, his biggest lead of the match. The 16th was halved with pars. At the treacherous par-3 17th, Liu hit a solid shot to the middle of the green, some 25 feet from the hole. Shim’s shot carried the green. He could not get it up and down and settled for a 4 while Liu safely two-putted and won yet another hole to go 5 up.
Shim missed the green on the par-4 18th and hit a masterful little chip shot that took one bounce into a swale, and then rolled to within a foot of the hole. Liu hit the green, some 30 feet short of the hole, and stroked his birdie putt to within inches of the hole. Pars were conceded the players went to lunch with Liu 5 up.
The afternoon 18 begins at 1 p.m., EDT.
Rhonda Glenn is a manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at email@example.com.