LOS CABOS, Mexico – Ever since Cameron Young teed it up with Justin Timberlake on Wednesday during the pro-am at the World Wide Technology Championship, he can’t stop that feeling, to borrow the song title and catchy lyrics from one of the musician and songwriter’s hit tunes.
“I actually had no idea I was playing with him,” Young said. “I saw his name on the scorecard and I thought that must be kind of someone else named Justin Timberlake, but it was not.”
One day later, on a warm, sunny day when the wind failed to blow, Young couldn’t stop the birdie feeling at El Cardonal Golf Course at Diamante, channeling the power game of course designer Tiger Woods and beating the course into submission with seven birdies in all. Young posted 7-under 65, one stroke off the early lead in the first round shared by Camilo Villegas and Michael Kim.
Young is making his first start of the FedEx Cup Fall – he last appeared at the BMW Championship, the second of three FedEx Cup Playoff events in August – but his game showed no rust as he hit all 14 fairways and, depending who is counting, all 18 greens.
“It was close, but I don’t know if it was quite that,” Young said of hitting every green in regulation. “It’s been years I feel like since I’ve actually been home for that long. Just the ability to go out and really try some things and work through some issues that I felt like I had was honestly, one, was kind of fun for me, I haven’t had the chance to do that without the pressure of an event coming up in a long time, and two, I think very productive. I think I learned some things in my golf swing. It’s nice to come out and see ’em kind of work in the first competitive round.”
At No. 17 in the Official World Golf Ranking (and No. 18 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings), Young is the top-ranked player in the field this week and he’s just two spots behind Tommy Fleetwood for being the best-ranked player in the world without a PGA Tour title. Young, 26, said there was a time where he was pressing for that first win but he’s realized it’s a matter of when not if he’ll hoist a trophy and is no longer sweating it.
“I think I’ve kind of come to terms with the fact that I’ve played plenty of golf that’s worthy of winning a golf tournament out here,” he said. “Obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way yet, but I think I’ve played plenty of good golf and I fully believe that that golf can win a tournament out here. So I’ve let go of it a little bit and I’m much more focused on trying to get better as much as I can.”
Michael Kim of the United States plays his shot from the sixth tee during the first round of the World Wide Technology Championship at El Cardonal at Diamante on November 02, 2023, in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Michael Kim has one victory under his belt at the 2018 John Deere Classic, but the quest for a second title has been a long and winding road. Since his lone triumph, the former Cal Bears golfer’s game went off the rails, at one point missing 25 consecutive cuts and tumbling outside the top 1,000 in the world. Kim, 30, has climbed back to No. 118 entering this week and opened with 64.
“It was just super solid,” Kim said. “I probably went into trouble just once or twice today and just a really solid day that I could have shot even lower if I made a couple more putts.”
Villegas, who has four Tour titles to his credit but hasn’t won since 2014, posted a bogey-free 64. It marked the 41-year-old Villegas’s lowest score since the second round of the 2022 Sony Open in Hawaii and he hit all 14 fairways for the first time since the final round of the 2007 RBC Canadian Open. Villegas has made just 10 starts and three cuts this season – with a T-48 at the Puerto Rico Open his best showing – and entered the week at No. 224 in the FedEx Cup standings.
“Low scoring’s out there as you can see on the leaderboard,” he said, “and it’s going to be that type of week, so we’ve got to keep pushing.”