Cameron Young has been named an All-Atlantic Coast Conference, All-East Region and ACC All-Academic Team member in each of the past two seasons.
His 70.11 scoring average last year as a junior was the third best in a single season in the storied history of the Wake Forest program.
But he hadn’t won a college event since capturing a pair of titles in the fall of his freshman year in 2015.
The senior from Scarborough, N.Y., relieved more than a couple years of frustration Tuesday at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, shooting a 2-under-par 70 to capture the individual title in the General Hackler Championship by two strokes with a 12-under 204 total. Kentucky’s Lukas Euler was second.
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“I think it’s a long time coming. I’ve been working at it and getting better and just haven’t seen it so it was nice to kind of break through this week and play some good golf,” Young said. “I feel I’ve been playing better than I’ve been scoring and it just seemed like a long time since I’ve kind of put some things together and done a bunch of things well at the same time, so it was nice to do that this week.”
North Florida captured the team title with a 1-over 289 in the final round for an impressive 21-under 843 total. Wake Forest was five shots back in second, followed by Liberty, Louisville and Georgia, as the top five teams are all ranked in the top 30 of Golfstat.com’s national rankings.
Young entered Wake Forest with a lot of promise, having been a member of the 2014 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup and Junior World Cup teams.
With his two wins during the fall season of his freshman year, Young became the first Demon Deacon to win twice during the fall season since Bill Haas in 2003-04, first to win consecutive tournaments since Haas in 2002-03, and first freshman to win consecutive tournaments since Curtis Strange in 1973-74.
“He’s really, really talented,” Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas said. “He came in [as a freshman] and had 10 things he wanted to change and I said, ‘Well we can make it look better, but is it really better?’ He’s very powerful. He makes it look easy. I’m really happy for him.”
Young had some back stiffness and didn’t complete three rounds of intrasquad qualifying to play in the Hackler but he was one of two players selected for the starting lineup by Haas and assistant Aaron O’Callaghan.
“It always makes you look good as a coach when you pick the right guys,” Haas said. “But we see him every day and we know he’s very talented, and I know he wants to do this for a living. I’m very proud of him. He’s a great student, he’s a wonderful kid.”
After shooting 66 and 68 in the opening two rounds Monday, which featured warm temperatures, little wind and receptive greens, Tuesday’s round was more difficult for Young and the field with cooler morning temperatures, increased wind and firmer greens.
“Today was definitely more of a grinding day,” Young said. “No one was out there hitting it close all the time. It was just a battle against yourself and try to make pars and limit your mistakes.
“The way I hit it today was not nearly up to the standards of yesterday so this was maybe a day two or three years ago I wouldn’t have managed to shoot a decent score and would have let it get away from me. So I was proud of myself to kind of keep it within reason and score pretty well.”
Young intends to turn pro within a year of completing his college career within the next couple months. “I’ll just keep working at it the same way I have and keep getting better,” Young said.
Going back to its final event of the fall, Wake Forest has won twice and finished second in its past three tournaments. Haas said he has eight players with scoring averages between 69 and 71.2. “We’re trending the right way,” Haas said.
But the Demon Deacons couldn’t catch North Florida, which entered the final round with a four-shot lead at 22 under.
North Florida captured its third Hackler title, having also won in 2012 when the event was held at DeBordieu Club in Georgetown and in 2015 at The Dunes Club, and it was the second victory of the season for the Ospreys, who have made nine consecutive NCAA regionals and whose ranking of 18th by Golfstat will improve.
All five Ospreys finished in the top 22, led by senior Travis Trace, who tied for third at 9-under 207.
“We’ve got a bunch of seniors who have been around the block a little bit. We had a couple guys play really good [Monday] and then a couple other guys played a little better today so it was a pretty good team effort,” said North Florida coach Scott Schroeder, whose teams have participated in the Hackler in most of his 14 years at the school. “It’s our second time winning on this course, which is pretty cool.”
Host Coastal Carolina finished 10th at 13-over 877. Junior Zack Taylor tied for 13th with a 3-under 69-74-70–213 that included an eagle and 10 birdies and senior Wes Artac finished 21st at 216. Senior Daniel Overas tied for 29th at 219 playing as an individual.
“Obviously the result is not very good,” CCU coach Jim Garren said. “We got a couple guys to play good and we didn’t get much after that. You’ve got to do a little better at home. There’s no way around that. . . . . . . We’ve got to get our depth better.”
By going 3-9 in the 13-team event the Chants fell to 43-49-1 on the season and will remain in-state next weekend at the Furman Intercollegiate. If the Chants have a losing record at the end of the season they will need to win the Sun Belt Conference tournament to earn a berth in a regional.
“We’ve put ourselves in a spot now where you don’t want to talk about must win in golf, but we need to win next week at Furman to get ourselves in good position,” Garren said. “We took some losses this week.”
Garren said he wasn’t shocked at 36-hole scores of 22 under for North Florida as a team and 11 under for Trace as an individual because of the quality of the field.
“When you get a day like [Monday] when the wind’s not blowing and the greens are really good and really fast, but they weren’t firm, these are high-level players, these are world-class amateur golfers,” Garren said. “They can get after it.”
1, North Florida 843 (-21); 2, Wake Forest 848 (-16); 3, Liberty 849 (-15); 4, Louisville 853 (-11); 5, Georgia 854 (-10); 6, Kentucky 858 (-6); 7, East Carolina 873 (+9); 8, Texas A&M 874 (+10); 9, East Tennessee State (876 (+12); 10, Coastal Carolina 877 (+13); 11, Kent State 882 (+18); 12, North Texas 885 (+21); 13, Northern Illinois 897 (+33).
Individual Top 10
1, Cameron Young, Wake Forest 66-68-70--204 (-12); 2, Lukas Euler, Kentucky 67-68-71--206 (-10); T3, Trent Phillips, Georgia 68-73-66--207 (-9); Ervin Chang, Liberty 70-69-68--207 (-9); Travis Trace, North Florida 66-67-74--207 (-9); 6, Eric Bae, Wake Forest 69-69-71--209 (-7); T7, Gabe Lench, Liberty 71-66-74--211 (-5); A.J. Beechler, East Carolina 71-74-66--211 (-5); Alex Fitzpatrick, Wake Forest 72-68-71--211 (-5); T10, Kieran Vincent, Liberty 70-70-72--212 (-4); Jordan Batchelor, North Florida 68-73-71--212 (-4); Fred Allen Meyer, Kentucky 73-67-72--212 (-4).