Almaden Country Club
San Jose, Calif.
Aug. 12-15, 2002

Liao holds on to win Girls Division by one

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Daniel Im of La Mirada, Calif., erased a four-stroke, final-round deficit as he shot 7-under-65 to win the AJGA Needham San Jose Junior Classic. In the Girls Division, Ki-Shui Liao of Alameda, Calif., led wire-to-wire as she too claimed her first AJGA title.

The 54-hole tournament, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, featured 84 players representing 10 states and included 72 California natives. The inaugural event was held at the par-72 Almaden Country Club.

Im entered the final round without any aspirations of winning. He was hoping to capture a top five finish and add some polish to his game before he plays in some season-ending tournaments. All of that thinking changed after Im got through his first five holes. The 17-year-old eagled his first hole and then birdied his third as he decided to make a run for the title.

"After that eagle on No. 1 I realized I was only two-strokes back," Im said. "I decided to play as hard as I could from there on out."

Im, who has four top five finished this year and recently helped the West team secure the coveted Canon Cup, said his ability to hit greens in regulation was the difference today.

"The first day I hit 10 greens and the second I hit 11," Im said. "I was kind of mad after that but today I was flagging my shots."

Anthony Kim of La Quinta, Calif., and Jay Choe of Yorba Linda, Calif., had the opportunity to force a playoff with Im, but it was not meant to be. Kim missed his 20-foot eagle putt to the right and Choe left his chip for eagle short securing the title for Im.

"I was so nervous watching Anthony putt," Im said. "I still can't believe it. It is slowly sinking in."

Kim finished in second at 206 and Choe ended up in third with a 207. David Yoon of Irvine, Calif., placed third with a 209 and Josh Esler of Wauconda, Ill., rounded out the top five with a three-day total of 210.

In the Girls Division, Liao notched her third-consecutive round under par as she won her first AJGA title in only her second event.

The 14-year-old entered No. 18 tied with Jennie Lee of Huntington Beach, Calif., at 5-under-par. Lee parred the hole and Liao drained a 13-foot birdie putt to grab her first title. Liao did not even know she had to make the putt to win.

"I thought I was two strokes ahead," Liao said. "I didn't even know how important her putt turned out to be."

Liao (69-71-70-210) said it was probably a good thing she did not know her and Lee were tied.

"I was not even nervous," Liao said. "If I had known I had to make the putt to win then I probably would have missed it."

Liao said she was still in disbelief that she won.

"It might sink in once I get home," Liao said. "I might not sleep tonight. When I came here I didn't even think about going under par. I have never played that well before and then suddenly I win."

Lee finished in second at 211 and Hannah Jun of San Diego, Calif., placed third with a total of 213.

For more information regarding the Needham San Jose Junior Classic please contact our national headquarters at (877) 373-2542.

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