Young leads sixth consecutive round on Korn Ferry Tour
GLENVIEW, Ill. – Nine men in the Korn Ferry Tour’s 32-year history rattled off back-to-back wins. One of them is playing this week’s Evans Scholars Invitational presented by First Midwest Bank, and enters the weekend in a much different place than Cameron Young, who sits atop the leaderboard for a sixth consecutive round.
Last week, Young battled rain-soaked conditions and emerged with a wire-to-wire victory (solo leads in all four rounds), a feat last accomplished on the Korn Ferry Tour by Kramer Hickok at the 2018 DAP Championship presented by NewBrick. This week at The Glen Club, Young is 10-under par through two rounds, one stroke ahead of Northbrook, Illinois native Nick Hardy.
Bidding to become the 10th player in Tour history with consecutive wins, Young shot a bogey-free 7-under 64 in cool, rainy weather Thursday afternoon, and followed it with a 3-under 68 as the wind chill bordered on freezing Friday morning.
The only player in the field with fewer than three bogeys through 36 holes, Young’s lone mishap was a three-putt bogey at the par-4 10th, the opening hole of his second round.
“It’s been pretty easy this week to focus on this week and each day at a time, just because it is so hard, and it’s cold and windy and wet,” Young said. “If you start thinking about other stuff, you don’t have much of a chance out there. You just have to tell yourself you love it the whole way around. If you admit you’re cold, or you admit your toes hurt, you’re going to start hitting worse shots and have a lot less fun. As soon as you start doing that, it gets harder to tell yourself you love it. It sounds sarcastic, and it sounds stupid out there sometimes, but we were going around the whole day saying what a nice day it was and that we couldn’t be happier.”
After the opening bogey, Young made eight consecutive pars and turned to the par-5 first.
The Scarsborough, New York native hit a 5-wood from 256 yards out and drained a 22-foot eagle putt from the back fringe. Young made 8-footers for birdie at the par-5 fifth and par-4 eighth, but missed a 5-footer for birdie at the par-3 ninth.
“It’s tricky out there,” Young said. “I felt like I was hitting it better than yesterday. The difference between yesterday (and today) was I didn’t miss anything and I holed out a wedge. Today, I missed some and didn’t hole out a wedge. Had a nice chance for birdie on No. 10, and as it got a foot short of the hole it caught a downwind gust and went five feet by, and I missed the one coming back. Didn’t really do anything wrong on the first hole (of the round) to make a bogey, but it’s just going to happen here. I have no complaints with how I played.”
Current projections have Young moving from 26th to 12th in the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour points standings with another win. Prior to last week’s victory, Young ranked 70th.
A rookie who started the year with no status, earned Special Temporary Membership with an unforgettable four-week run in August after a Monday qualifier, and never led after a single round on Tour until this current run of six in a row has a PGA TOUR card in his sights. Life is moving pretty fast for Young, and he’s soaking in every bit of it.
“When I started the year, the goal was to get to the PGA TOUR as fast as I could,” Young said. “I love it out here, and I love playing the Korn Ferry Tour, but it’s not where I want to be for the rest of my career. I don’t think the goals have changed. I’m just closer to them.”
Quincy, Illinois native Luke Guthrie made a miraculous run of his own back in 2012.
A two-time All-American out of University of Illinois, Guthrie debuted as a professional at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, finishing T19 in his first PGA TOUR start. Guthrie followed up with a T5 at the John Deere Classic, a T18 at the True South Classic, and made his way to the Korn Ferry Tour by late July. After top-10s in each of his first four Korn Ferry Tour starts, Guthrie rebounded from a missed cut with back-to-back victories at the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron and the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Guthrie finished the season ranked second on the Korn Ferry Tour money list (with a mere 10 starts) and earned his PGA TOUR card. He stayed there until the end of 2016, when he lost his card and dropped back down to the Korn Ferry Tour.
After maintaining some form of status the last four seasons, Guthrie entered the week with 23 consecutive missed cuts. A pair of 1-under 70s have Guthrie in T12 position as he prepares for his first weekend tee time since February 2020.
“It’s been by far the most difficult time in golf. The least amount of fun in golf I’ve had in my whole life,” Guthrie said. “Feeling close, people telling you you’re close, it’s right around the corner, and you keep shooting the same score every day. And it’s not for lack of hard work. You convince yourself it’s going to be the day every day. It just kept building and building and became its own little animal.
“My wife, Kaitlyn, has encouraged me every step of the way. If this was me a decade ago, when golf defined me a little more… if I had a bad day on the course, I wasn’t happy until I had a good day. I can confidently say that’s not been the case. I was still a happy individual. It’s just not fun to be bad at your job.
“It felt good to get a few in front of (the cut line) for the first time ever, it feels like, and think about other things.”
Like weekend plans. And anything warm.
“A nice deep dish pizza sounds about right on a day like today,” Guthrie said of his post-round plans. “And a seat warmer in the car and pumping 80 degrees in my face.”
Welcome back to the weekend, Luke Guthrie.
Third-round tee times will run from 7:24 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. local time Saturday off the first tee.