HARTFORD, Conn. – World Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III asked to have a front-row seat so he could scout playing partners Cameron Young and Will Zalatoris in the first two rounds of last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.
Love, the captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup that will compete against the International side in September, had heard about and seen the former University of Wake Forest teammates play, but he had never had an up-close-and-personal view of the talented twentysomethings. The 58-year-old Love missed the cut, but it would be a shock if he didn’t make the duo two his six captain’s picks if they aren’t among the six players to qualify.
“If they made the team, they’re a natural,” Love told Golfweek. “It’s like (Travelers Championship winner) Xander (Schauffele) and Patrick (Cantlay), they’re like peas in a pod. The only thing I asked them is we’ve had guys before that hang out together all the time and do everything together but don’t really want to play together. I said, ‘Do you want to play together?’ They said, ‘No, no, no, we do everything together.’ They say they play 75 percent of their practice rounds together and seem to get along great. You could see it when after I hit, they took off running down the fairway, they’re chitchatting the whole day, comfortable with each other and giving each other a hard time.”
Love told pgatour.com, “You see Will on TV or around the locker room, but when you stand right beside him and see him hit a golf ball – it was said about me when I was that age, like, ‘Listen, it’s a different sound when Davis hits it.’ ”
Young, a former Bridgeport resident whose father David is the longtime director of golf at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, N.Y., impressed Love even more during a 9-under-par 63 in the second round that tied the course record and included seven birdies and an eagle 2 at the 14th hole when he holed out a 136-yard pitching wedge shot.
“You obviously have kind of some idea why (Love) is there,” Young said. “I don’t know what I’m on the points list for the Presidents Cup, but I think that I’m probably somewhere that I could get picked.”
Young birdied four of the last six holes Sunday July 31 for a closing 4-under-par 68, a 72-hole total of 21-under 267 and a tie for second with No. 4 Patrick Cantlay and Canadian Taylor Pendrith, five strokes behind Tony Finau, who notched a second consecutive victory with a tournament-record 262. Finau, who doubled his career victory total the last two weeks in the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic, moved to No. 16 in the Official World Golf Rankings and became the third back-to-back winner this season, joining No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (World Golf Championships-Dell Technology Match and Masters) and No. 6 Schauffele (Travelers Championship and Genesis Scottish Open).
It was Young’s seventh Top-10 finish in 22 starts in his rookie season, including runner-up to Cameron Smith at The Open Championship and a tie for third in the PGA Championship, one shot out of a playoff between winner Justin Thomas and Mito Pereira. He’s now ninth on the FedExCup points standings and 10th on the money list ($6,308,211, including $635,600 Sunday) and definitely on Love’s shortlist for the Presidents Cup on Sept. 21-25 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. He’s also the frontrunner for PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, which would be fitting since his buddy Zalatoris, who was a year ahead of him at Wake Forest, won the Arnold Palmer Award last season. No. 13 Zalatoris went to Wake Forest on Arnold Palmer Scholarship.
Despite all of his successes, Young says “it’s a hard question” when asked how he would characterize his season with one week left in the regular season before the FedExCup playoffs.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy to watch other people win,” Young said. “Obviously, Tony beat us all by a lot, but it’s not fun being that close that often and not having won. Some of them I’ve been closer than others obviously. I’ve lost by one a couple times and lost by four, five a couple times. All in all, I think it’s a great thing, it proves that I can at least put myself there but definitely a little frustrating not to have won one yet.”
The top six on the Presidents Cup points list through the BMW Championship, the second event of the FedExCup playoffs, will make the team automatically. Love then will make his six picks on Aug. 29, which is the Monday after the Tour Championship. International Team captain Trevor Immelman, looking to avenge a close loss last time, also will make his picks that day.