Cameron Young realized that making history beats making $17,500. He tied the course record at Bethpage Black on Thursday with a 64 and became the first amateur ever to win the New York State Open, achievements that offset any disappointment in not being able to accept the winner’s check.
The money went to Chris DeForest, a professional who lost on the second playoff hole after tying for first at 9 under, and said at the awards ceremony: “I don’t feel guilty about taking it because Cameron is going to make a lot more money than I ever will.”
That was the consensus about Young, a 20-year-old from Scarborough and rising junior at Wake Forest. His sterling play on Thursday, capped by a birdie on the 431-yard par-4 first hole in the playoff, was seen as just another glimpse of a shining future. He is not about to rush it, either, by turning pro.
“I don’t think it’s going to change anything if I do it in now or two years or three years from now. It doesn’t matter,” said Young, who still is young enough (no pun intended) to have his mother, Barbara, and father, Dave, share the caddying duties for him this week. “If I’m going to be good enough to play for a living, I’m going to do it when I decide to do it. I’m not going to move my schedule up.”
No pro ever has had a better round on the Black than Young did. His 64 tied the mark set by local pro Craig Thomas in the 2007 State Open, Lucas Glover and Mike Weir in the 2009 U.S. Open and Padraig Harrington in the 2012 Barclays. “It’s not the easiest course, but it is one of my favorites on the whole planet,” Young said.
He has played all over, given that Dave is head pro at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. Cameron has won the Ike Championship twice, was runnerup in the Met Open last year and once reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur.
Having shaken off a recent wrist injury, he made 14- and 25-foot birdie putts on Nos. 2 and 3, eagled the par-5 seventh and was off to the races. Young’s greatest challenge occurred on the first playoff hole, the Black’s 18th, when he drove left and could only chunk out, about 40 yards short of the green. He pitched within six inches to save par. Playing the first hole a second time, he cut the corner, leaving himself a 50-yard second shot for a place in history.
Just not a piece of that $17,500. “Hopefully,” he said, “the checks will be bigger someday.”