Recap: Liaw Wins 2001 Junior Amateur

San Antonio -- Henry Liaw, 15, of Rowland Heights, Calif., captured the 54th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, 2 and 1, over Richard Scott, 17, of Ontario, Canada, at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Texas.

Already up one hole, Liaw sank a 30-foot putt on the par-4, 382-yard 16th hole to go 2-up with two holes to go. After the two players halved the par-4, 367-yard 17th hole, Liaw had the victory and the title.

“If you gave me a whole shag bag, I don’t think I could make another one, but at the time I played a perfect putt,” said Liaw of his long putt on the 16th.

The victory ended a long week for Liaw, who fell just four holes short of the U.S. Junior Amateur record for most match-play holes needed by a champion. Liaw played 104 holes in six rounds, including a 22-hole victory in the second round over Ryan Cochran, son of PGA Tour pro Russ Cochran.

At 15 years old, Liaw will be eligible for two more U.S. Junior Amateur championships. He will not only have the chance to defend his title, but also match the record of three straight titles set by Tiger Woods from 1991 to 1993.

“Next year when I come out, I’m just going to give it my best again,” said Liaw. “That’s all you can do – just go out there, practice hard and just hope for the very best.”

The loss ended Scott’s hopes of becoming the first Canadian to capture the U.S. Junior Amateur title, but he did not leave disappointed.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Scott. “It’s probably the most memorable week of my golfing career.”

In his semifinal, Liaw won, 2 and 1, over Chanin Puntawong, 14, of Bradenton, Fla. Puntawong was trying to become the youngest champion in U.S. Junior Amateur history. Woods, who was 15 years, 6 months and 21 days old when he won the championship in
1991, is the youngest Junior Amateur winner.

In the other semifinal, Scott won six holes on the front nine to take a commanding lead over Andrew Dresser, 17, of Carrollton, Texas. Scott took the match, 7 and 6, when the two halved the par-4, 438-yard 12th hole.

James Vargas, 17, of Miami, Fla., captured medalist honors in record fashion, shooting 65-67—132 to beat the previous two-day stroke play record of 134 set by Sonny Nimkhum at the Country Club of York (Pa.) in 1999. The 132 also tied the all-time USGA record for low 36-hole score in an amateur championship, shared
by five others.

But Vargas’ joy would quickly end when he was upset in the first round of match play by Zach Amole, 17, of Denver, Pa., who was the last person to qualify for match play in a 6-for-3 playoff.

Defending champion Matthew Rosenfeld, 17, of Plano, Texas, was trying to join Tiger Woods as the only person to successfully defend his U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. He shot an opening-round 9-over-par 80 but qualified for match play with a 2-under-par 69. His run came to an end in the third round, when Kevin Silva, 17, of New Bedford, Mass., sank a 25-foot putt on the 22nd hole.

“I felt like there was Saran Wrap on the hole this week,” said Rosenfeld. “I could not make a putt.”

Story compiled by USGA staff.