By Mike Dougherty
RIVERHEAD – The promise and potential of Cameron Young were realized when the 18-year-old rolled in a trio of timely birdies at Friar’s Head to become the youngest winner of The Ike Championship.
The anticipation for what’s likely to follow increased exponentially.
Young showed impressive consistency while climbing the leaderboard Tuesday and quiet confidence when he reached the very top, shooting a 66 in the closing round to win by five strokes with a 7-under total of 206.
There was almost no reason to be nervous down the stretch.
He will eventually see his name on a historic trophy claimed by so many of the Met area’s best amateurs over the last 60 years.
“To be on that list is a really special thing,” Young said.
And now the Wake Forest signee is going to be ranked among the favorites each time he shows up to play a tournament in this neck of the woods.
“I don’t mind that,” he said with a rare measure of bravado. “Nothing really changes for me. I’m sure I’ll be out there practicing tomorrow, just like every other day. I don’t think it really changes my approach or anything.”
Jared Mactas, a New Jersey resident who plays out of Paramount C.C., and Stewart Hagestad, a former player at Southern California who plays out of Golf & Body NYC, were a stroke ahead of Young after the second round.
Things changed quickly after lunch.
A stiff breeze made club selection a process for most and kept scores in check. Young did not make a single bogey in the final round and was 2-under on the front. He opened the back with a stretch of impressive pars.
Most of them were earned with nerve-rattling putts stretching between six and eight feet.
“Those keep you moving,” said Young, who plays out of Sleepy Hollow. “You catch a bad break right there and lip one out and it kind of slows you down. To keep that going through those holes really helped down the stretch.”
It was difficult to keep an eye on the leaderboard because of the spotty cell service, but the win was secure after birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th holes.
There wasn’t even a modest fist pump during the birdie outburst.
“I hit a couple of good shots at the right time,” Young said in typical fashion. “You’re trying as hard as you can on every single one and if you do that throughout the day, you’re bound to hit a couple of good ones.”
The low round of the championship did not escape notice.
“Shooting a 66 this afternoon, everyone who played this golf course knows that’s one heck of a round,” said Ken Bakst, a former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who developed Friar’s Head and finished in the top 20. “Well done.”
Adding to the significance of the win was the fact that Young’s mom and longtime caddie, Barbara, was never more than a few steps away while his dad, Sleepy Hollow head pro David Young, was climbing sand dunes hoping to find enough of a signal to get scoreboard updates.
“My dad doesn’t get to come a lot so it’s special to have him here,” said Young, who carded a 1-under 71 in the morning. “I’m always away and he’s always home working. My mom has been on the bag for me since I started playing tournaments and it was good to have her here the whole time.”
60th Ike MGA Stroke Play Championship
At Friar’s Head – Par 71
1. Cameron Young, Sleepy Hollow CC – 70-70-66–206
2. Stewart Hagestad, Golf & Body NYC – 71-68-72–211
3. Erick Alonso, White Beeches G&CC – 71-69-73–213
3. Ryan Snouffer, Panther Valley G&CC – 68-76-69–213
3. Jared Mactas, Paramount CC – 70-69-74–213
3. Evan M Grenus, Sterling Farms – 70-70-73–213
7. John VanDerLaan, Centennial – 74-68-73–215
8. Trevor Randolph, Arcola CC – 71-72-73–216
9. Matthew Lowe, Colonial Springs GC – 73-72-72–217
9. George J Zahringer III, Deepdale GC – 71-74-72–217
9. CJ Swift, MGA eClub-Westchester/Fairfield – 69-71-77–217
12. Sam Bernstein, Century CC – 71-74-73–218
13. Ken Bakst, Friar’s Head – 71-78-70–219
13. Kieran Purcell, Essex County CC – 74-71-74–219
13. Conor Casey, Somerset Hills CC – 72-71-76–219
16. Joseph Saladino, Huntington CC – 74-69-77–220
17. Brent Ito, Met PGA Junior Golf Club – 70-78-73–221
18. Steven Zychowski, Mendham Golf & Tennis Club – 70-75-77–222
18. Xander McDonald-Smith, Marine Park – 74-72-76–222
18. James McHugh, Rye GC – 68-75-79–222
18. Jay Linn Card III, Gardiners Bay CC – 69-74-79–222