September 24, 2015
Youth on Course, Junior Tour of NorCal Members Bask in First Tee Open Spotlight
And there’s still three more days to go.
Both Liu and Kim were among six juniors who teed off with the pros at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Thursday’s Coca-Cola Champions Challenge as part of Nature Valley First Tee Open week.
Liu, who hails from Cupertino and is also a member of The First Tee of Silicon Valley, teamed up with Jay Haas. Kim, a member of The First Tee of Monterey County in Salinas, was paired with World Golf Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie.
Despite the two being shutout in the five-hole Challenge, which is played over Pebble’s old ‘Whiskey Route’ (holes No.1, 2, 3, 17 and 18) and features an alternate shot format, both were thrilled to just be a part of the action.
On the new 17th, Liu nearly holed out for an ace. She made a hole-in-one on the hole on a simulator Tuesday night.
“It’s so amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said Liu, a 16-year-old junior at St. Francis High. “I can’t believe that I’m doing all this. But here I am at Pebble Beach. It’s crazy. I’ll never forget it.”
One of those impressed with the juniors’ play was Challenge emcee for the day Bobby Clampett. In the early 1970’s, Clampett, who nearly won the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, was one of the best junior players in Northern California.
The Carmel native won the 1976 NCGA Junior at Lake Merced GC and later won two California Amateur titles (1978 and 1980) at Pebble Beach.
“There are just so many good ones (junior players) now. It’s wonderful,” Clampett said. “Golf is in good hands because of our youth. If you pooled the Champions Tour players, they’d tell you that this is their favorite event. It’s because of the kids.”