Giants vs. Giant-Killers July 22, 2010 By Christina Lance

Jim Liu knocked record-breaking Gavin Hall out of the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Junior Amateur. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)

 Ada, Mich. (July 23) – It will be the giants versus the giant-killers in the semifinals of the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, being held at Egypt Valley Country Club. 

 Robby Shelton, the 14-year-old from Wilmer, Ala., who came out of nowhere to defeat defending champion Jordan Spieth in the second round, continued his killer streak, leading for most of his match and ultimately knocking out Anthony Paolucci, 17, of Del Mar, Calif., the runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur, by a 2-and-1 margin. 

 My game’s on top of everything right now, Shelton said. I always start out slow and at the end I come back. He’s a great player, but my putting and my hitting are just on right now. 

 Jim Liu, 14, of Smithtown, N.Y., battled Gavin Hall, the 15-year-old New Yorker who captured the championship’s attention with his Junior Amateur-record 62 in the second round of stroke play. While Liu had a 2-up lead for a portion of the front nine, Hall battled back, squared the match on the par-4 10th hole and took the lead at the 14th. But Liu, who advanced to the second round of match play at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship last week, regained the lead at the 17th hole and took the victory, 1 up. 

 It was really tough, Liu said. We were never more than two either way, and then we were all square for a good portion of the match. So we both played great and I just hung on at the end. 

 Shelton and Liu will face off at 1:15 p.m. for the chance to play either Justin Thomas or Denny McCarthy in the 36-hole championship final. 

 Thomas, 17, of Goshen, Ky., played all-square golf over the first three holes with Scott Wolfes, 17, of St. Simons Island, Ga. Wolfes briefly enjoyed a 1-up lead, but Thomas quickly evened the match at the sixth hole, birdied the seventh to take a 1-up lead and then played steady golf, converting nine birdies and one eagle over his next 10 holes to defeat Wolfes by a 2-and-1 margin. 

 I just played like I should and I got some putts to fall, Thomas said. I’m getting closer. I’m inching there, match by match. 

 McCarthy, Thomas' afternoon opponent, had to take a walk across the Egypt Valley parking lot from the 18th green to the first tee when his match against Canadian Richard Jung went into extra holes. Jung led for 10 of the match’s 18 holes, but McCarthy took the one that counted, making a birdie to Jung’s par and ending the match on the 19th hole.  

 You know you’ve got to make birdie because he was on fire, McCarthy, 17, of Burtonsville, Md., said, and to beat a player that’s on fire, you’ve got to be more on fire. We both played really well.  

 It was an awesome match. I hope we gave the spectators something fun to watch. 

 Thomas and McCarthy tee off at 1 p.m. for the opportunity to advance to Saturday’s final.