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another close call

Cameron Young matches recent record for most runner-up finishes without win. His emotions are not exactly what you’d expect

March 24, 2024
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Douglas P. DeFelice

Cameron Young did it again. That’s the problem. Because this time it's a record he doesn't want to hold.

The 26-year-old third-year PGA Tour member recorded yet another second-place finish, this time falling two shots short of Peter Malnati Sunday at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Sure, second place is better than everyone other than Malnati at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, but Young has now done something that accomplished only once going back four decades.

After shooting 69-69-68-68 to a 10-under-par 274 total, Young now has seven such finishes. That’s matches the most second-place finishes in the last 40 years without a victory, a mark set by David Duval from 1995-97.

On Sunday, Young made birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 14 to jump into contention and remained there standing on the 18th tee. He blew his tee shot way left, the ball coming to rest on trampled down mulch where fans had been all week. He hit a pitching wedge up and over a clump of large trees, his ball landing on the green, 50 feet from the pin. His birdie attempt ended 10 feet short and he missed the par putt, settling for bogey.

That meant Malnati only needed par on the last hole to win, but he eventually made birdie to win by two shots.

Young was the PGA Tour’s 2022 Rookie of the Year. That year he finished second at the Open Championship, a shot behind Cameron Smith. He also finished second by two shots that year at the Genesis Invitational and the Wells Fargo Championship. Young's other runner-ups include the 2021 Sanderson Farms Championship, 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic and the 2023 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Back in the mid-1990s, Duval went on a similar run with three runner-up finishes in 1995, two more in 1996 and two more in 1997. The saving grace was a breakthrough win at the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill five months later then led to two more consecutive wins, including at the Tour Championship. So Young can take some solace.

Young also didn’t have time to dwell on the emotions of finishing second again. He had plenty of other things to worry about shortly after he signed his scorecard in the final round.

“Honestly, I realized I wasn’t going to win pretty quickly,” he said, “and I have a four-hour drive home with a 1- and a 2-year-old, so whatever emotions are attached to that.”