Carson Young dodges trouble, earns first Korn Ferry Tour victory at The Panama Championship
February 06, 2022
By Zach Dirlam , PGATOUR.COM
- February 06, 2022
- Young fired a 68 on Sunday to capture his first victory on the Korn Ferry Tour. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – At a course which finished four Korn Ferry Tour seasons with the highest scoring average relative to par, Carson Young made the fewest mistakes and capitalized on just enough opportunities as he emerged victorious at The Panama Championship.
Sunday marked a maiden Korn Ferry Tour victory for Young, a first-time member in his 10th career start on Tour. The Pendleton, South Carolina resident finished at 8-under par, one stroke ahead of Carl Yuan, Brandon Matthews, and Jimmy Stanger.
Young was not the field leader in birdies this week at Panama Golf Club. In fact, 15 players totaled more birdies and eagles than Young, including the three who finished a stroke behind him. This week, however, plenty of pars felt like birdies. And Young finished the tournament with just six bogeys, tied for the fewest number of bogeys or worse recorded by anyone in the field.
“What I've dreamed of ever since I turned pro is to win on the Korn Ferry Tour,” Young said. “This is a really special moment for me. Had some good practice rounds. I was feeling good with my game. I felt like this course set up well for me. You had to be a pretty good ball-striker. I just played really solid golf. Hit a bunch of fairways, bunch of greens, and made a few putts here and there that ended up turning out to be good enough.
“I didn't know how low or high the scores were going to be this week. I didn't look at past scores or anything. I was just playing my game,” Young continued. “After I saw I was two back (following the third round) after feeling like I still even left a few out there, I knew this could be my week.
“I'm honestly still kind of in shock. I'm probably going to cry later just because this is a huge deal for me. I've worked, you know, four, five years to try to get here.”
Young closed with a 2-under 68, one of 16 sub-par rounds carded Sunday, and played bogey-free golf for the final 17 holes.
Young erased his bogey at the par-4 first – a missed 4-footer after a shot out of the greenside bunker – with back-to-back birdies at the par-4 fifth and par-3 sixth. Five consecutive pars followed, and Young made what ended up as the tournament-winning birdie, his 14th of the tournament, at the par-5 12th, as he parred the final six holes and watched as the last three pairings chased his 8-under 272.
Stanger and Yuan both had birdie putts to reach 8-under par on the 72nd hole, but neither converted.
“The big turning point for me was a huge par save on No. 4,” Young said. “I made like, I don't know, 8- or 9-footer, so that got me some momentum going with the putter. But I didn't look at any scores all day, so I didn't know where I stood. I thought I was a little bit short until after I tapped in on No. 18. My caddie said, ‘Well, you're solo lead right now.’ I was really wanting that last putt, but, hey, I didn't even need it.”
Young grew up in South Carolina as a competitive tennis player like his brothers and cousins. Well, until he noticed a golf course alongside the tennis courts and begged his parents to let him play golf. Young’s family hardly knew anything about the game. They didn’t even know how to play.
Enter Harvey Brock, a local pro at Pendleton’s Boscobel Golf and Country Club. With Brock’s help, Young picked up golf rather quickly, won the first tournament he entered at 7 years old (against 8- and 9-year-olds), and was hooked.
“Unfortunately he passed away about eight or nine years ago,” Young said of his first golf mentor. “He taught me the game. He was the one that… first time I was out there on the golf course he showed me how to hold it, and so I know he's looking down on me and he would be proud of me today. I'm thankful for Harvey and all he's done.”
By the time Young got to junior tournaments, golf became a serious endeavor. Perhaps even a little too serious at times.
“Every tournament meant a lot to me back then. I just really wanted to win and I got super nervous,” Young said. “The story my dad tells is, on the way to – I was probably 10 or 11 – a tournament and I said, ‘Dad, pull over,’ and I jumped out of the car and threw up because I was, I don't know, going into the last day. He was like, ‘Son, we can turn around. You don't have to play golf if it means that much to you.’ I was like, ‘I love it, dad. I love it.’
“I'm glad I stuck with it. Thankfully I didn't throw up today.”
Junior golf turned into two individual state titles, followed by 2016 and 2017 All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team selections as a junior and senior at Clemson.
Young turned professional and never made it past Second Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Wanting to remain close to home with his wife, Riley, Young typically skipped the PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Q-Schools.
Early in 2020, Young decided it was time he tried one, and he finished T7 at a PGA TOUR Canada Q-School event in Howey In The Hills, Florida, earning conditional status for the first half of the season. A little over a week later, the PGA TOUR Canada season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Young later thrived in the LOCALiQ Series, eight events organized by the PGA TOUR in the United States from August through November 2020. He played seven events, posted three top-10s, and won the Jacksonville Championship. Young’s Q-School status carried over to the Forme Tour last summer, and he finished 13th in the Order of Merit for an exemption into the Second Stage of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Young advanced to Final Stage and ultimately earned guaranteed starts for the first eight events of the 2022 season with a T29.
Although 2022 marks Young’s first season as a Korn Ferry Tour member, he played in seven events between 2017 and 2021. Six were the product of successful Monday qualifiers. The other was a sponsor exemption for the 2021 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by TD SYNNEX in his home state. Young’s best finish in those starts was T50.
“I'm thankful the Mondays,” Young said. “Playing in the few events that I did kind of got me ready, and then the Forme Tour definitely prepared me for competing in four-day events.”
After missed cuts in the first two events this season, Young arrived unexpectedly at the Korn Ferry Tour winner’s circle. As for the kid who threw up on the side of the road on the way to a junior tournament, Young wasn’t quite sure he’d believe the story either.
“Man, I don't know if I could even dream that or believe that,” Young said. “I always dreamed of being on the PGA TOUR.”
There is still work to be done for Young this season, but, for now, to the victor go the spoils.
“Never had that much money or seen that much money,” Young said of the $135,000 winner’s check. “I'm sure I might go buy some more fishing gear. I love bass fishing, so maybe the wife will let me buy a few rods and reels. That will be nice.”