Cameron Young shoots 8-under 63 in RBC Heritage debut

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (AP) — Cameron Young showed it doesn’t always take years of practice to get down at Harbor Town Golf Links, shooting an 8-under 63 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in from his early days with RBC Heritage.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (AP) — Cameron Young showed it doesn’t always take years of practice to get down at Harbor Town Golf Links, shooting an 8-under 63 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in from his early days with RBC Heritage.

The 24-year-old PGA Tour rookie birdied eight in a bogey-free inning, his first in the 60s in 11 innings dating back to 65 at the Honda Classic more than six weeks ago.

Young had two strokes ahead of Chilean Joaquin Niemann and three ahead of seven others, including defending FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, Irishman Shane Lowry – who finished tied for third at the Masters last week – and Canadian Corey Conners – who was sixth at Augusta National. .

Mito Pereira, also from Chile, former RBC Heritage winner Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland, Adam Svensson from Canada and Sepp Straka from Austria also shot 66. There were 10 players at 67, including the champion in title of 48-year-old Stewart Cink.

Young had only heard of Harbor Town’s treacherous gauntlet of narrow, tree-lined fairways and small greens that demand precision. Still, the former Wake Forest player from New York got off to an early start with five birdies out of the front nine.

Young closed his first round of the harbor with a birdie on the iconic 18th hole – the one with the red and white striped lighthouse in the backdrop – with an 8ft putt to complete a shot from his lowest round in career in his young career on the PGA Tour.

“You really have to pick your spots where you think you can be a little bit aggressive and the spots where you just can’t,” Young said.

A word of advice: stay aggressive, especially with a loaded RBC Heritage field in pursuit. The tournament features five of the top 10 players in the world, including Cameron Smith, third in the Masters, and Collin Morikawa, fifth in Augusta National.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler will not play RBC Heritage.

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Adam Svensson of Surre, B.C., were the top two Canadians in action Thursday, both with a 66 and tied for third at under 5.

Roger Sloan of Merritt, BC, is tied for 20th after shooting a 68 in the first round. Meanwhile, Adam Hadwin shot a 69 and is tied for 32nd. Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., shot a total of 71.

Mackenzie Hughes had the worst performance of the seven Canadians on the court Thursday. The Dundas, Ont., native shot a 73 and is tied for 104th.

Niemann started slow with back-to-back bogeys on the third and fourth holes. Then he birdied seven of the last 14 holes to break the deadlock for third place.

Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion, said he couldn’t believe how fast the round came after the pressure cooker at Augusta National. Still, he started his game with three consecutive birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes along Calibogue Sound. He added two more birdies in his bogey-free round.

“It almost feels like a half vacation and you’re just going to play a little golf too,” said Lowry, who has twice top-10 finishes here in four previous appearances.

Conners passed the the par-3 seventh hole. He hit a 7 iron to the front of the green where he jumped twice and rolled into the cup. Conners couldn’t see it fall off the tee, but knew it by the reaction on the green.

“A bunch of people raised their hands around the green so I thought he was in,” he said.

Morikawa, second in the world, opened with a 70. Smith, whose triple bogey on the 12th hole in Augusta ended his Masters chase, shot a 73.

Webb Simpson, the 2020 winner, had finished 3 by the end of his round when he landed five straight birdies (#14-18) on the tough back nine for a 69.

Morgan Hoffmann played his first PGA Tour since October 2019 after withdrawing due to muscular dystrophy. Hoffman shot a nice, easy-going, even 71. “The game wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, so it was pretty exciting,” he said.

All are chasing Young, who has proven to be much more than a wide-eyed rookie, but one with steady play and nerves of steel.

He had two seconds this season and qualified for the Masters, where he missed the cut after 77 consecutive seconds. Young spent the weekend with family, unwinding from the Masters and planning what’s next.

“Honestly, I wanted to play last weekend,” Young said. “But as far as this week goes, (missing the cut) is not the end of the world.”

Especially if he can put a few more 63s. Don’t bet on it, Young said.

“I know that would be really good,” he said. “But you have good days and bad days and you rarely have four good ones in a row. I’m glad it happened early and I’m glad I held on for the whole tournament.

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Pete Iacobelli, Associated Press

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