Golfer Jason Liu ’21 named Ivy League Rookie of the Year, only third Dartmouth male golfer to hold title

by Maya Moten | 5/14/18 2:20am

During the end of April as the Ivy League was handing out their yearly distinctions, Jason Liu ’21 had the honor of being named Rookie of the Year in men’s golf. The prize came after his performance during the Ivy League tournament, where he finished tied for 13th after playing the lowest round of the tournament on day three.

“There was a lot of pressure and I kind of struggled throughout the first and second round, so by the third round I was feeling the pressure a little less,” Liu said. “During the first four holes, I was four-under while the other guys had two or three-under and so it was really exhilarating to play. I actually got it down to six-under, but I came in three-under [67] while the rest of the team finished in the low 70s.”

Liu also noted that it was the best performance of the team this season. 

Teammate and former Rookie of the Year John Lazor ’19 expressed his admiration for Liu’s performance.

“He was six-under throughout, maybe 10 or 12 holes at two different points, and I guess from past experiences playing with [Liu] on the same team or when I’ve played in tournaments with him, knowing that somebody is doing that well in the tournament just really gives a great feeling,” Lazor said. “He had the lowest round of the entire tournament that day and that really says something about his golf game. Being a freshman and doing it on the biggest stage in Ivy League golf is pretty incredible.”

Liu’s Rookie of the Year honor makes this the third time Dartmouth has won the award since it was first given out in 2009. Liu joins the ranks of Peter Williamson ’12 and Lazor, who earned his in 2016. 

“It’s a big honor, especially because you don’t expect too much coming in as a freshman,” Lazor said. “You want to just contribute to the team and play as well as you can, but sometimes the summer before your freshman year you play a lot of golf and you’re very excited for the season. Usually freshmen come in playing the very best golf, and once you start putting some great tournament rounds together it translates into the next tournament and the tournament after, and you can really build momentum going into the rest of the season.”

The achievement of Rookie of the Year was surprising, however well-deserved it was, after Liu faced a difficult start to the season with a shoulder injury which impeded his golf swing.

“I was really quite surprised, especially considering that I was struggling a few times,” Liu said. 

Liu also noted how much his game improved from the fall to the spring.

“I was not too happy with my swing in the beginning of the year, but during the off season I worked with [Dartmouth men’s golf head coach Rich Parker],” Liu said. “It was really great, and I saw a significant change and had a strong finish, so I was really happy.”

Aside from training with Parker, Liu also put in extra hours with the team’s simulator.

“In the winter, we have our indoor facility,” Lazor said. “Obviously we can’t practice outside, but he took advantage of that more than anybody on the team,” Lazor said. “He stayed down there with Sam [Ohno ’21], who is another freshman on the team, until 11:00 p.m. on some nights, just practicing on our new simulator that we got this past year, and so his hard work really paid off especially this winter.”

Parker shared this sentiment, specifically noting Liu’s work ethic and ability. 

“[Liu] is the best putter in the Ivy League — even though he can still shoot decently, he is able to save himself with his putt,” Parker said. “He’s a heck of a worker and he’s really dedicated. His focus is on school and golf and I’m honestly not sure what’s more important. He is involved with everything. We’re really lucky to have him, and I think it’s gonna be a great four years.”

Liu’s superior putting ability has been something that has marked him through his days in Junior Golf. 

“[Liu] is one of the best putters I’ve ever seen,” Lazor said. “I didn’t quite notice that during Junior Golf, as he was an overall solid player, but in the last few years and especially at Dartmouth his putting has just excelled, and that’s one of the strong points of his game.”

This hard work mentality is something Liu maintains even with an Ivy League award under his belt, as he plans on devoting the summer to improving his golf game. 

“It was really motivating seeing how I can improve,” Liu said. “I really plan on practicing and working on my game, and hopefully next year I can win first.”