AUGUSTA, Ga. — There might not a player more due to win at this week’s Masters than Cameron Young.
Sure, Rory McIlroy hasn’t won a major since 2014 and needs a Masters victory to complete a career Grand Slam.
He’s due at Augusta.
But Young, who’s been one of the most consistent players in the world for the past year and a half, is due to win, period, because he’s still searching for his first career victory.
Young, the Westchester native who learned to play the game at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, where his father was the head pro for more than two decades, is coming off a second-place finish at the SGC-Dell Match Play, where he lost in the final to Sam Burns.
It was his sixth runner-up result on the PGA Tour since last year. He finished third in the PGA Championship and second at the British Open.
“I’ve been playing well, I feel like,’’ Young said. “I feel like it’s been going the right direction and just excited to get the week started. I feel like I’ve just generally been more in control of my ball. I started to drive it a little better. My iron play has been a little better, and I feel like I’m starting to read some greens better than I have before. Just all parts, I feel like kind of going the right direction.’’
Young, who played in his first Masters last year, has a score to settle at Augusta National.
He missed the cut, shooting a pair of 77s on his way out of town.
“I just didn’t play very well,’’ Young recalled. “I think this is a hard place to play for your first time, and I probably wasn’t as prepared as far as golf course analysis as I am this year. I feel like I was much less comfortable generally playing on the PGA Tour and majors and the Masters than I am today. I feel like I’m much more comfortable being here.’’
Young comes to Augusta this week with a new caddie, seasoned veteran Paul Tesori, who’s previously worked for Webb Simpson, a former U.S. Open winner.
“His golf course analysis is unbelievable,’’ Young said. “I think this is his 21st Masters. He’s still out there learning, which is unbelievable to me. I feel like every hole he picks something out and gets a new number that he hasn’t had before. His attention to detail … is unbelievable just with noticing some of those little things and bringing my attention to them. He’s a tremendous resource for me, especially this week.’’
Young, too, changed his pre-tournament approach this year, hoping to maximize himself.
“I came a little bit later,’’ he said. “Last year, I got here early on Sunday and kind of wore myself out a little bit. So, this year I came in Monday afternoon. I’ve played maybe 27 holes in the three days. I feel a bit more rested. I think it’s just a better way for me to go in general.’’
Young’s path has been compared to defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who after some close calls but no wins, finally broke through and has now won six times in the past 15 months, elevating to, the No. 1 ranking in the world. Scheffler, too, hired a seasoned caddie, Ted Scott, who worked for Bubba Watson for both of his Masters victories.
“I’m not Scottie, and Paul’s not Teddy,’’ Young said. “We’re all different people. I don’t think that necessarily has any bearing on what happens with us. Could go better than that, could go worse. Who knows? But I’ve really enjoyed Paul’s company. I think he does a great job, and I think he is a huge resource to me moving forward.
“He definitely brings my energy level up a bit, keeps me focused. It’s great for me in that sense. I’ve been around him so much, it’s very easy for me to talk to him. We have a good time out there.’’
Tom Hoge, with help from a hole-in-one on the eighth hole, won the annual Par-3 Contest Wednesday at Augusta National, playing the revamped course in 6-under par.
No player in Masters history has ever won the Par-3 Contest and gone on to win the regular tournament.
Bubba Watson, who had a hole-in-one on No. 4, and Kurt Kitayama were second at 5-under par. Si Woo Kim, Ryan Fox and Taylor Moore were 4-under.
Irishman Seamus Power carded two aces, one on the eighth hole another on No. 9, where defending Masters champion Scottie Scheffler also had a hole-in-one. In all, there were five aces for the day.
Power called being the first player ever to card back-to-back aces in tournament history “a dream come true.”
“Obviously to get one was special, but to get the second one was a bit surreal,’’ he said. “It’s obviously such a special tradition here on a Wednesday. I don’t know whether it carries into [Thursday’s first round], but it’s certainly a lifelong memory that I’ll treasure.”
Scheffler said he was “trying to make” an ace “all day,” adding, “The slam dunk at the end was definitely very fun.”
He was fresh off hosting the Champions Dinner, addressing the past champions.
“It was pretty emotional,” Scheffler said. “I got through my speech, though, which I was proud of. I trembled probably the whole time, but I got through it.”
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