By Max Goodwin
The AdventHealth Championship returns to Blue Hills Country Club in south Kansas City on May 19 as the PGA’s developmental level, the Korn Ferry Tour brings the best young professional golfers in the world to south Kansas City as they compete to reach the PGA Tour.
A year ago, Cameron Young, 24, arrived at Blue Hills Country Club having struggled to find his way through the proving ground of the Korn Ferry Tour. His dream of playing on the PGA Tour appeared to have slipped out of reach in 2020. Young was nowhere to be found on player rankings when the pandemic set in. The PGA closed events and with Young having no status on the tour he was forced to find his own way to practice.
The only way for him to make it into tournaments was to play through Monday qualifiers against a huge field of players just to get into tournaments. He had to hurry from tournament to tournament to try to play into each one. Until he found a hot streak a few months before last year’s AdventHealth Championship.
Young had placed high enough in several tournaments to reserve his spot in the AdventHealth Championship without having to play through early qualification. Coming into Kansas City, he was 70th in points on the Korn Ferry Tour. But at the end of the first day of the AdventHealth Championship, the unfamiliar name at the time, Cameron Young, led the field. He maintained that lead until the end, winning in wire-to-wire fashion.
As he walked off the 18th green at Blue Hills that Sunday with an oversized prize check and the tournament trophy, Young had the look of somebody who had finally proven himself. He appeared calm but confident in the wake of his first professional win. It was as if he knew what the next year would entail, and recognized that moment as the point when everybody else was beginning to see it too.
“I love Kansas City. I’ll never forget it,” he said after that final round. “Especially leading from day one. I’ll remember a lot of the shots I hit for the rest of my life.”
The week after the AdventHealth Championship, Young won again in Illinois. His name shot up the Korn Ferry Tour points rankings.
A year later, Young is the top-ranked rookie on the PGA Tour. This past weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship, Young finished in a tie for second. He has yet to capture his first career win on the PGA Tour but Sunday was the third time this season he has finished second.
He’s now ranked 13th overall on the PGA’s FedEx point standings. He is consistently top-5 in driving distance off the tee. His ability to smash the ball as far down the fairway as any player in the world helped him win in Kansas City last year. It’s how he has competed on the tour this year and he sees more potential coming.
That first win on the Korn Ferry Tour, at the AdventHealth Championship, ignited his career. When he said he would remember some of the shots he hit in Kansas City for the rest of his life, there was a sense that it wasn’t because he expected it to be the only win of his career, but because he understood it was the start of something.
Golf fans will not see Young, or any of the other top names in the PGA at the AdventHealth Championship when the tournament tees off, but the players that will be there represent the future of golf. There’s a good chance at least one of the golfers taking the tee at Blue Hills will be a future star.
The AdventHealth Championship runs May 16-22. Tickets can be purchased at www.adventhealthchampionship.com.