Incoming Stanford freshman Jim Liu, 17, of Smithtown, N.Y., the stroke-play medalist, made an 8-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole Wednesday to win his first-round match and lead a group of 32 players into the second round of match play in the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the par-72, 7,740-yard Martis Camp Club in Truckee.
Liu, the Junior Amateur medalist for the second consecutive year, trailed for much of the inward nine against Matthew Lowe, 17, of Farmingdale, N.Y. Liu rallied to take a 1-up lead by winning No. 15 with a par and making birdie on the drivable par-4 16th. Lowe squared the match with a par on No. 18 as Liu made bogey by driving into the rough and hitting his approach shot over the green.
The U.S. Junior Amateur Championship continues with the second and third rounds of match play on Thursday. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be played Friday. The championship is scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday.
Liu, the youngest-ever U.S. Junior Amateur champion at age 14 in 2010 and the runner-up last year, endured double bogeys on holes 6 and 13, each a par 4. He birdied the par-5 ninth to regroup from one of those mistakes. Liu struck an 8-iron 169 yards to set up his winning 8-foot putt.
"That's golf," said Liu, who shot rounds of 69 and 67 in stroke play and is playing in his fifth U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. "You can't expect to play well every day. It's about the days where you don't have your best game and you just grind it out. I just tried to stay patient out there. As long as you have more holes to play you have a shot. That's the mindset I had."
Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley, who will be a teammate of Liu's this fall at Stanford, also advanced to the second round. A quarterfinalist at last year's U.S. Junior Amateur, the 17-year-old McNealy was a 2-and-1 winner over Cole Berman of Rosemont, Pa.