15-Year-Old Cameron Young and Other Local Players Try To Qualify For The U.S. Open

We are part of The Trust Project

Rarely in the world of sports can a person can go from watching the professionals on television to competing against them head to head in a major event in under a two-month period.

Young is trying to qualify for the U.S. Open for the firs time at the age of 15. Photo by Peter Gerken

Professional golf has one tournament a year that is open to anyone to play in, as long as they meet a certain criteria. The United States Golf Association (USGA), which operates The U.S. Open, invites the general public annually to try to qualify.

To qualify for The U.S. Open a golfer must have an USGA Handicap Index of less than 1.4. If you’re talented enough to meet that number, you have the opportunity to tee it up in an U.S. Open Local Qualifier Tournament, which is 18 holes of golf.

In Westchester two weeks ago, over 120 players gathered at Trump National Golf Club – Westchester in Briarcliff Manor for a U.S. Open Local Qualifier and only the top eight individuals would advance to sectional qualifying.

One of the most unique stories from the eight men who made it through the local qualifiers is 15-year old Fordham Prep freshman Cameron Young. He lives in Briarcliff Manor and is the son of Sleepy Hollow Country Club Head Golf Professional David Young.

Cameron Young shot a three-under par 69 at Trump National to share medalist honors with Mike Miller of Brewster, who is the 2011 Metropolitan Golf Association Amateur Player of the Year and the son of Bob Miller, the head golf professional at Knollwood Country in Elmsford.

This spring Young had a stellar season playing for Fordham Prep. On Friday he fired a two-under par 70 at James Baird State Park in Pleasant Valley to win the Catholic High Schools New York State Championship.

On Monday Young will be one of 73 players vying for four spots in the U.S. Open, which this year is being played at the famed Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. These 73 individuals will have to play 36 holes in the sectional qualifier at Canoe Brook Country Club.

He has a chance – if he qualifies through sectionals – to become the youngest player ever to compete in the U.S. Open. Young would eclipse the prior record help by Tadd Fujikawa of Hawaii by several months. Fujikawa qualified for the 2006 U.S. Open held at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck.

The two courses at Canoe Brook will provide plenty of challenge for these golfers. The South Course is a par-72 and is 6,622 yards long from the back tees while the North Course is a par-72 that stretches to 7,158 yards.

Over the last two years in which Canoe Brook has hosted the sectional qualifier the North Course has played a couple strokes harder. It took a two-round total of 138 to qualify for the U.S. Open in 2011 and a 142 total in 2010.

Young considers the strength of his game to be his accuracy off the tee and believes his putting is an area in which he needs to improve. In his short competitive career he has only played in one 36-hole in one-day qualifier for the Metropolitan Amateur Championship in 2011, when he shot a two-round total of 144 to successfully qualify at Piping Rock Golf Club.

When you talk to Young he strikes you as a very nice and laid-back individual. Competing in this year’s U.S. Open Qualifier wasn’t part of a grand plan for the Young family. David was already playing in it so they thought: Why not Cameron too?

“I thought it would be good for him. I thought if he played well he could make it through,” said David Young about his son’s chances of surviving the cut at the U.S. Open Local Qualifier.

David ended up shooting a six-over par 78 whish placed him in a tie for 40th place. The elder young is a very skilled player in his own right, winning the 2000 Westchester PGA Championship and finishing second in the 2008 Metropolitan PGA Championship.

David’s son will need to play his best golf to be one of the top four players at Canoe Brook. The field of 73 players at Canoe Brook is headlined by several players who played and won on the PGA Tour including Marc Turnesa, Daniel Chopra, Parker McLachlin and Bill Britton.

One player to keep your eye on is Brazilian Alexandre Rocha. He hasn’t had the best of years on the PGA Tour in 2012 but he qualified for the U.S. Open at Canoe Brook in 2011 and he has nine international professional victories in his career.

There are also several talented professional golfers playing on Monday who compete on the Nationwide Tour, which is the equivalent as playing in Triple AAA in minor league baseball. Some of these players include Luke List, Andrew Svoboda, Jim Renner and Chris Nallen.

A couple of the top teaching golf club professionals in the Metropolitan Area will also give it a try to qualify for the U.S. Open:. Craig Thomas of Metropolis Country Club, Greg Bisconti of St. Andrews Golf Club and Rob Labritz of GlenArbor Golf Club.

Young isn’t the only talented amateur from the metropolitan area in the field. Miller has had a decent spring, competing in Ireland and some local events. Other amateurs that could make headlines by qualifying for the U.S. Open are Max Buckley, Ryan McCormick, Kyle Sterbinsky and Cameron Wilson. Sterbinsky is also a freshman in high school.

The key to Monday’s qualifier might be ball striking. With the amount of rain the golf course received over the last couple of days any drive or missed green in the rough will be more brutal than normal. The rough will be heavier and longer due to the rain. Since it’s going to be a long day the more greens a golfer hits in regulation and chances he has birdie will be vital.

Odds are to have a chance to get into the U.S. Open, players are going to have a total of 140 or lower. Any large number on your scorecard will probably lead to watching the U.S. Open on television.

If Young doesn’t advance to the U.S. Open on Monday, his week will still be busy as he defends his 2011 Westchester Amateur at Rockrimmon Country Club in Stamford, Conn. on Tuesday.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.