When Cameron Young tees off Thursday on the 10th at 10 a.m. at Torrey Pines’ North Course for the Farmers Insurance Open, it’ll be his first time playing the North Course. The 23-year-old Korn Ferry Tour member, who Monday qualified with a birdie on the first playoff hole, finished the qualifier at 11 a.m. Monday morning and then spent 24 hours clicking the refresh button to see if his 2-under 70 would be enough to get him into a playoff after weather delays pushed the finish of the qualifier back into Tuesday.
“Yes, certainly not the most ideal in terms of tournament prep, but we’ll figure it all out today,” Young said. “Not too worried about it.”
Although he thought his 70 would be a shot or two shy of a playoff, the blustery cold conditions meant it was enough to get him into a playoff with five players competing for two spots. He ultimately advanced with a 12-foot birdie on the first playoff hole but by the time he’d gotten through the playoff and COVID testing, any chance for Tuesday preparation was a total wash. Therefore, he’ll have to squeeze in 36 holes of prep work on Wednesday, which will include a scouting walk around the North Course during the Pro-Am in the a.m. and then playing 18 holes in the afternoon at the South Course.
Despite the challenges, Young, who sits No. 58 in the Korn Ferry Tour Points Standings, is just excited for the opportunity to play for the first time since the Korn Ferry Tour’s last event in October.
“I’m super excited. My caddie is one of my best friends from college, and I came out a few days early for the Monday, and we’ve been saying ever since I landed that we’re going to Torrey Pines and then to hop in the car this morning, we were actually going to Torrey Pines,” Young said. “So, we kind of spoke that into existence.”
It’ll mark only Young’s second career PGA TOUR start. As an amateur, he qualified for the 2019 U.S. Open where he missed the cut with rounds of 75-76 but says he’s a far different golfer than he was then.
“I think playing that U.S. Open, it’s kind of tough to compare because at that point, I was really just out of college and I wasn’t that healthy,” Young said. “I think I’ve had a good year and half since then to work on my body and get myself in a little bit better shape. I think I’m in a very, very different place golf wise then I was at that tournament.”
Young’s also been in this position before as a Monday qualifier hoping to make more out of the spot than just a paycheck or neat picture for his Instagram. He did so this summer when he turned his Monday qualifier spot in the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Aetna into Korn Ferry Tour membership with four straight top-15s, which included a T2 at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship.
Young, who relishes the test of challenging golf courses and thinks they suit his game best, believes there’s a lot of synergy between three of the courses he thrived on during that stretch – The Club at Indian Creek, Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, and Ohio State Golf Club’s Scarlet Course – and the test he’ll face this week at Torrey Pines. There’s also the confidence that comes from showing he belonged on the professional level in his first full year as a professional.
“I think obviously that experience helps, having been in a kind of similar situation before,” Young said. “I think especially playing that well [on the Korn Ferry Tour], it proves I belong out on the Korn Ferry Tour and obviously excited to have the chance to prove the same thing to myself here this week at a slightly different level.”
While Young’s dream in August of four top-15s earned him a place to play and proved to himself that he belonged, missing three of four cuts in September and October showed him his shortcomings to address in the offseason.
“When I got into the event in Omaha, I obviously played great those next few weeks, but I wasn’t necessarily ready for it. It’s just taxing to play a lot of golf in a row like that,” Young said. “We’ve got a lot of stretches similar to that in this year on the schedule, and I think I’ll be much better prepared to play a lot of golf in a row and just kind of deal with that in a way because I definitely started to get tired and didn’t play as well towards the end of that stretch. I think I’ll be a lot more prepared and able to continue that play over longer periods of time.”
Only three weeks separate Young from a long Korn Ferry Tour season ahead, so will he attempt to Monday qualify for anymore PGA TOUR events in the next two weeks?
“Hopefully not. Hoping to play my way into Phoenix next week just like I did this summer in Omaha,” Young said with a chuckle.