Womens Amateur Asia-Pacific

12-year-old Yujie Liu inspired by star of bygone era

Joy ChakravartyGuest Author
08 Mar 23
3 mins

For the record, China’s Yujie Liu is the youngest participant in this year’s Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) championship. She is just 12.

However, it’s not just her age that will shock you. There’s more. Ask her who is her favourite golfer, and the answer will surprise you even more. “Oh! I have so many. On the LPGA, it is Nelly Korda and Lydia Ko. Among the men, it is Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy (no surprises so far, but hold your breath…) and Ben Hogan.” Hogan? As in the nine-time major champion from the World War II era? Seriously?

Hogan admiration

“Yes… the Ben Hogan. I admire him a lot,” explains the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR) number 305. “My father told me his story about how he was involved in a big car crash and almost died. And then, when nobody thought he could make a comeback, how he came back a couple of years later to win the US Open while playing on one leg basically. It is so inspirational. “What I like about him is how strong he was mentally. That’s important for any athlete to succeed.” Winner of three junior tournaments last year, a determined Liu has made the best possible start in her journey towards becoming a professional golfer in the future. However, just the fact that Liu is pursuing golf is equally surprising as well. After all, her father, Guoliang, is an Olympics gold medalist (won both singles and doubles golds in 1996 Atlanta Games) and a World Championship winner and former head coach of the Chinese national table tennis team, while Mom, Jenny, was an international ping pong superstar as well. Guoliang may not have taught Liu how to play table tennis, but he sure is teaching her how to win.

Yujie Liu - China

"I am a little bit nervous because I have mostly played three-day tournaments. So still a bit nervous, but very excited."
“I have a few coaches. I have my coach in Beijing. I have a short game coach. I train with Shanshan Feng (China’s first major champion who recently retired), who is the national coach now. You can say that my dad is my mental coach,” said Liu. “He will inspire me for mental things and like what to do when you are winning. He tells me how to be towards the end of the tournament, and how to face that kind of a pressure. During my practice sessions, he will throw a challenge at me and ask me to hit particular shots.”

Started young

The Beijing-based Liu started playing as a three-and-a-half-year-old.  “I started playing because my mom and dad were always on the golf course. And they were practicing putting one day, when I picked up their club and started putting. And I became very interested in the sport,” said Liu, who is making her WAAP debut. “I was part of the HSBC Junior Development programme in China. I have played tournaments on the Buick Junior Tour and won lots of tournaments. Now, I have stopped playing so many tournaments and we have decided to play against players who are older and give me a better challenge.”

Long hitter

Liu feels she will be able to contend against the field with her distances. “I can carry 195 yards with my driver and I get about 215 yards distance. But I think my strength is that I do not make too many big mistakes. There will be bogeys, but I won’t make double bogeys or worse. My short game is pretty good and I hit it straight,” said Liu. “My only challenge this week is that it is a four-day championship. So there is a lot of walking to do on a very hilly course. I am a little bit nervous because I have mostly played three-day tournaments. So still a bit nervous, but very excited.”