Liu Takes Lead At Junior Amateur Break July 23, 2010 By Christina Lance

Jim Liu (right) has a 3-up lead over Justin Thomas (left) after the first round of today's scheduled 36-hole final. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)

 Jim Liu has taken a 3-up lead over Justin Thomas into the clubhouse after completing the first round of today's scheduled 36-hole championship final at the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, being held at Egypt Valley Country Club.

 The morning’s steady rain pushed back the start of the match by 30 minutes. After Thomas and Liu took to the course, Thomas, 17, of Goshen, Ky., jumped out to an early advantage, quickly taking a 2-up lead after the first three holes. However, he sent his second shot on the par-3 sixth hole from the front rough into the back rough, allowing Liu to gain a stroke. Liu, a 14-year-old from Smithtown, N.Y., then stuck his tee shot on the par-3 eighth hole within inches of the hole. Thomas conceded Liu’s putt, and promptly sent his own 2-foot putt past the hole, allowing Liu to pull the match all square. 

 Once the match made the turn, the sun came out and Liu’s game came alive, as he converted a birdie opportunity on the par-4 10th hole to take a 1-up lead. Liu, who has played the back nine extremely well throughout the championship, went on a birdie tear, including the final three holes, and came into the clubhouse having shot the equivalent of 8-under par (with the usual match-play concessions) for the round. 

 Thomas, on the other hand, struggled with his drives throughout the morning, sending many of his tee shots into the rough. While he was able to end up the green on most situations, he was stymied by Liu’s ability to put the ball just as close, if not closer, to the hole locations. Thomas, who just missed several birdie attempts on the back nine, including a 6-foot putt on the par-3 16th after conceding Liu’s 3-footer, finished the round the equivalent of five under. 

 Liu and Thomas will head back to the first tee at 1 p.m., following a lunch break, for the second round.