U.S. AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Cameron Young Counting on Home Cooking in Match Play May 23, 2016 | MAMARONECK, N.Y. By Bill Fields

Cameron Young is happy to be playing a 'home game' at Winged Foot during the 2016 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

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Cameron Young sure isn’t going to feel out of place during the Round of 32 Monday at the 2nd U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Winged Foot Golf Club.

Young is from Scarborough, N.Y., a 25-minute drive from Winged Foot. A 19-year-old freshman at Wake Forest University, Young went to high school at Fordham Prep, which held some of its matches at Winged Foot, mostly on the outward nine of the East Course, host to the match-play portion of the Four-Ball. Young also tied for fifth in the 2015 Met Open, played on the East.

“It’s nice to sleep in my own bed and play somewhere I’ve played a bunch of times, especially the Met Open last year,” said Young, who is teaming with his college teammate, Paul McBride. “I got to see it in [championship] condition. That helps for sure, knowing there are certain times you can’t hit it at a flasgstick or can’t miss it right or left. I think that definitely helps.”

Young was going to play this week with another Wake golfer, Will Zalatoris, but Zalatoris accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson PGA Tour event. McBride, a 20-year-old sophomore, was happy to fill in, and the teammates shot consecutive rounds of 2-under 68 for a 136 total to advance comfortably to match play.

They came to the Four-Ball straight from an NCAA Regional, which concluded last Wednesday in Marana, Ariz. McBride closed with a 69 and Young birdied two of his last three holes for a 71 in the final round, helping the Demon Deacons qualify for the upcoming NCAA Championship, to be played May 27-June 1 at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.

“That final round of regionals was by far the most nervous I’ve been through a full round of golf,” said Young, who won two college events his first semester at Wake. “That was a really constant case of being under pressure. Being out here with Paul is a lot of fun. We’re focusing on each shot, but maybe able to keep it lighter between swings.”

Wake is a longtime men’s golf powerhouse that has had some down years recently. Players such as Young and McBride are helping to fuel the resurgence.

“It’s nice to be around guys like Paul and be pushed every single day,” Young said. “There’s no one on the team who can’t beat you if you don’t play your best.”

Young struggled in the spring after undergoing a tonsillectomy in January, but he has found it to be just another step in his evolution as a collegian.

“It’s been a learning year for him, getting used to the college experience,” said his father, David, head professional at Sleepy Hollow. “And they work out a lot, so his body has changed since August, which is part of what he has struggling with. He’s hitting the ball a lot farther – probably 15 yards with his driver and a club with the irons – and having a little trouble finding fairways at the moment.”

The elder Young, 54, is not only a good judge of Cameron’s game, but also quite a player in his own right. Both David and Cameron advanced through U.S. Open local qualifying and will compete in sectional qualifying on Monday, June 6 at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J.

But before that important day, Young is hoping for a deep run in the Four-Ball. Going into match play, he and McBride were hoping their putting improves.

“We played a lot better than that,” McBride said Sunday of the side’s consecutive 2-under 68s in stroke play. “Today, we hit it to about 15 feet every single hole and just didn’t make anything. Yesterday, we hit it closer and didn’t make anything. So, we’re struggling to read the greens a little bit. I think we’ll be all right. Once something starts going in,” he said, “they’ll all start going in.”

Bill Fields is a Connecticut-based freelance writer who contributes regularly to USGA websites.

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