Young completes back-to-back victories
GLENVIEW, Ill. – Is Cameron Young the best golfer in the world right now? It’s certainly a fascinating conversation.
The Scarborough, New York native finished off a five-stroke victory at the Evans Scholars Invitational presented by First Midwest Bank with a 4-under 67 Sunday, totaling an 18-under 266 at The Glen Club. And for a second consecutive week, Young was atop the leaderboard the whole way.
Since Young shared first place with Northbrook, Illinois native Nick Hardy after Thursday’s opening round, this week’s victory does not technically qualify as a wire-to-wire win, a feat Young accomplished last week at the AdventHealth Championship. By holding at least a share of the lead for all eight rounds the last two weeks, however, Young set a Korn Ferry Tour record for consecutive rounds with at least a share of the lead; he led outright in seven of those eight rounds.
Young became the 10th player in the Korn Ferry Tour’s 32-year history to win back-to-back tournaments, as well as the first player to do so since Michael Putnam in 2013.
“I feel like my good has always been good enough to win,” Young said. “I drive the ball a lot better than I have previously. It's something that's improved dramatically over the last year or two. You can look back and say I missed a bunch of cuts early this year, but it wasn't that different. It's just a little bit here and there and not being as comfortable on the greens, and that really has changed how I feel out here and has dramatically changed my scoring. Just that little bit of confidence in making one or two more a day is adding up a lot.”
Although Young carried a four-stroke lead into the final round, he consistently took extremely aggressive lines both off the tee and into the green. It resulted in the largest margin of victory since Tom Lewis’ five-stroke win at the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance.
Young’s opening tee shot found the heather well right of the first fairway, but he was hardly concerned. It was the exact same spot he drove the ball Thursday. Young just blasted his second shot through the fringe at the back of the green, then made a delicate up and down for birdie.
An approach inside 10 feet led to another birdie at the par-4 second, and a 20-footer fell for a third consecutive birdie at the par-4 third, putting the tournament firmly in his grasp.
“I knew that if I got off to a slow start, that (Nick Hardy) was going to be right there in a heartbeat, and if it wasn't him, it was going to be somebody else,” Young said. “If you get out 1-over through eight, you'll have been passed at some point, and that's something I wasn't interested in doing today.”
Young’s aggression got the better of him at the par-5 fifth. Firing at a tucked pin with water left of the green, Young found the penalty area and opened the door for the field with a bogey. It was the only glimmer of hope the field had all afternoon.
“Just a juvenile mistake. I was mad at myself for that one,” Young said. “I wish I had that one back, but I was going to make a mistake somewhere, so that just happened to be it.”
When a lengthy birdie putt to the upper level of the par-4 seventh hit the flagstick and fell in, Young took a commanding six-stroke lead. Although runner-up Adam Svensson pulled within three shots down the stretch, Young slammed the door with birdies at the par-3 17th and par-5 18th, once again playing without an ounce of fear, and with no regard for the water protecting those pins.
“I pulled it a hair,” a smiling Young said of his tee shot at the 17th, which he put to eight feet. “The last thing I was going to do there was push something right, which is probably exactly why I hit it in the water on No. 5, but it worked out a little better there.”
While no player in Korn Ferry Tour history has won three consecutive events, the stars may be aligning for Young. At next week’s REX Hospital Open in Raleigh, North Carolina, Young, who played collegiately at Wake Forest University, will have plenty of fan support with family and friends in town.
Another victory would immediately send Young to the PGA TOUR via a three-win promotion.
“That's what I want. To win again,” said Young, who jumped from 26th to 13th in the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour points standings. “I think there would be something wrong with me if I didn't say that. I do want to be (on the PGA TOUR) as fast as I can be, and if it means winning again, it's winning again.”
So after two consecutive victories, after sitting atop the leaderboard for eight straight rounds, after going from Monday qualifier status, to Special Temporary Membership, to the verge of a PGA TOUR card, with a caddie who quit his job to carry the bag full-time, and after the season’s most dominant performance, is Cameron Young the best golfer in the world right now?
“I don't know about that,” Young said. “I haven't proven that over a period of time, so I don't think I'm there yet. I think I have a long way to go.”
His answer could be different come next Sunday.