Cameron Young’s professional golf career reaches another milestone this week. The PGA Tour rookie takes on storied Augusta National in the Masters, ready to play hard but equally ready to enjoy every minute of this special week in his life.
“It’s awesome,” he says. “I’ve never competed here, but I feel like I know what so many of the shots are because I’ve watched it so intently on TV my entire life.” The 24-year-old Scarborough native adds a couple of examples from his practice rounds. “It’s so cool to sit on top of the hill on 15 and hit a four iron down to that green,” he says. “And then there’s hitting a tee shot through the chute on 18.”
Young qualified for the Masters on the basis of the stellar play that vaulted him into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He finished runner-up last fall at the 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship in only his fifth career PGA Tour start, then followed that up with another runner-up at Riviera in February. He’s made the cut in nine of the 13 events he played and finished in the top 25 five times so far. Young has racked up $2.3 million in official winnings and stands at 19 in the FedExCup rankings.
He’s managing his expectations but has no reason to believe his game isn’t ready for Augusta National’s cerebral routing and excruciatingly difficult greens. “The golf course is very tricky,” he says. “Everyone who’s been here knows how hilly the course is. What’s amazing is how complex the greens are. It takes a lot of effort to just scratch the surface of all you need to know about the greens. That’s what make it Augusta.”
Young’s game plan for the course is straightforward. “I haven’t played it a million times, so I’m going to do my best to be disciplined and play as smart and safe as I can,” he says. During a practice round with two-time winner Bubba Watson, Young said Bubba “pointed out that even par has been in the top 15 the last 10 years or something like that. Given the weather, it could even win the tournament this year. I just need to keep my wits about me. At the end of four days, if I’m anywhere near even par, I’ll be proud of the golf I’ve played.”
The weather will be a big factor. “My game is going to be dictated a lot by conditions. The weather may take away the chance to be super aggressive. You have to be aggressive off the tee because the course is so long, especially if the course is soft from rain.” Augusta National keeps getting longer and longer, with this year’s course topping out at over 7,500 yards. Young has the distance to tackle it though, averaging 320 yards off the tee this year, the second-longest on tour. His putter can do the job, too. He’s stroking 28 per round, making him 12th on tour.
Cameron Young’s wife Kelsey and new-born son Henry are in Augusta to cheer him on, as are his mother, Barbara, a one-time pro herself who caddied for him during his formative years, and his father, David Young, director of golf at Sleepy Hollow GC. They’ve seen how his mental game has strengthened along with his physical one.
“I wrote down a set of goals at the beginning of the year and I have quite a few of them left to accomplish,” Young says. Those goals include winning a tournament in his rookie year, playing in all four majors, and making it to the tour championship. “I also had some statistical ones about driving and putting. I’ve been driving pretty well, but my driving accuracy goal hasn’t been achieved. I gave the list to my father and my caddie at the beginning of the year and they both said if I did half of them, I’d have a year to be proud of.” It’s more than likely they are already proud.