WEST ORANGE, N.J. – Cameron Young was taking mental notes all the way around Essex County Country Club during the opening round of the Ike Championship
It’s what aspiring talents do when paired with George Zahringer III.
The 63-year-old native of Rye owns a competitive resume that would fill an oversized staff bag. He’s the winningest player in MGA history with 17 titles and was recently inducted into the National Senior Amateur Hall of Fame.
“I’ve heard so much about him,” Young said. “I’ve seen the history that he’s created, so it was cool getting to watch him play.”
The 19-year-old defending champion has definitely had better rounds. He still managed five birdies to offset the five bogeys, finishing with an even-par 71.
Young is tied for seventh place, eight shots off the lead.
“Cameron is very, very impressive,” Zahringer said. “The hallmark of a really good player is finding a way to score when your game is a little off. He shot 71 today and I don’t think he was happy with the way he was hitting the ball. It’s the first time I’ve played with Cameron and he hits it stupid long, but it was really the putting that got my attention.”
There is some work to be done.
Peter Kim is leading the Metropolitan area’s premiere amateur stroke-play event, setting a course record with an 8-under 63. The 21-year-old rising senior at West Point is holding a two-shot edge on Tyler Cline of Tuxedo.
The championship concludes with 36 holes on Tuesday, weather permitting.
“I’m sure the course will be hard, but I feel like I could go out and shoot a crazy number so I have to be patient,” said Young, who had two MGA wins before he captured the Ike last year at Friar’s Head. “There’s a stretch of 12 or 15 holes where I make a bunch of birdies, so I’m hoping it comes sometime early Tuesday so people ahead of me feel some pressure.”
He took notice of Zahringer’s more laid back approach.
“You learn to manage your game, watching him,” said Young, a Scarborough resident and rising sophomore at Wake Forest. “I can reach about seven of the greens out here, I think, so the way I played and the way he played were so different, and he really got a lot more out of what he had, I think. He obviously has been around a lot and has played a lot of tournament golf so that translates into him shooting lower scores with whatever he’s got each day.”
Zahringer bogeyed his final hole to finish with a 1-over 72 and withdrew, citing a health issue.
He didn’t even blink each time Young went full speed with the driver.
“It’s tricky,” Zahringer said. “You’ve got to have a little bit of discipline and not go toe to toe with those guys, because you know you can’t. It’s a classic play-your-own-game scenario. Maybe you don’t watch Cameron rip every driver. He’s generating so much clubhead speed. It just comes down to paying attention to your own game and less to the other guys.
The last two weeks have been busy for Young, who tied for 18th at the Sunnehanna Amateur in Pennsylvania and 51st at the Northeast Amateur in Rhode Island. The setbacks in both events came in the first round.
“The way I played today, I could’ve shot 6-over or 6-under,” said Young, who was 2-under on his second nine. “I ended up hitting a lot of drivers really close to greens. I had between 30 and 50 yards several times and was missing greens, which is not much fun. To play like that and salvage even par, to play that poorly and still be there, somewhat, is a good feeling.”
He’s got plenty of company at even par.
James McHugh, a resident of Rye who plays out of GlenArbor, and Brent Ito, an MGA eClub member who recently graduated from Ardsley, also shot 72s.
61st Ike MGA Stroke Play Championship
Essex County Country Club
1. Peter Kim, Royce Brook Golf Club 30-33-63
2. Tyler Cline, The Tuxedo Club 32-33-65
3. Ryan Snouffer, Essex County Country Club 34-33-67
4. Kieran Purcell, Essex County Country Club 33-35-68
4. Stewart Hagestad, Deepdale Golf Club 33-35-68
6. Jonathan Jeter, Nassau Players Club 34-36-70
7. Christopher Gabriele, Mill River Club 37-34-71
7. John Havay, High Bridge Hills G.C. 35-36-71
7. Cameron Young, Sleepy Hollow Country Club 34-37-71
7. Paul Pastore, MGA eClub – Westchester/CT 36-35-71
7. Jared Mactas, Paramount Country Club 35-36-71
7. Christopher Blake, Essex County Country Club – 35-36-71
7. Ryan Davis, New Jersey National 35-36-71
7. James McHugh, Rye Golf Club 35-36-71
7. Brent Ito, Met PGA Junior Golf Club 34-37-71
7. Michael Graboyes, MGA Eclub – New Jersey 33-38-71
7. Jordan Kaplan, Pine Hollow Country Club 35-36-71
7. Evan M Grenus, Sterling Farms Golf Club 37-34-71
19. Sam Bernstein, Century Country Club 37-35-72
19. Mike Stamberger, Manasquan River Golf Club 36-36-72
19. Erick Alonso, Darlington G.C. 36-36-72
19. Kyle Brey, Bethpage State Park Golf Club 37-35-72
19. Tommy McDonagh, Shorehaven Golf Club 34-38-72
19. Craig Leonard, Wykagyl Country Club 34-38-72
19. George J Zahringer III, Deepdale Golf Club 35-37-72
19. Luke Graboyes, MGA Eclub – New Jersey 38-34-72
19. James Nicholas, Winged Foot Golf Club 35-37-72
19. Spencer Shih, Darlington G.C. 37-35-72
19. Christopher Gay, Siwanoy Country Club 38-34-72
19. Jake Mayer, Plainfield Country Club 37-35-72
19. Alexander Kang, Harbor Links Golf Course 36-36-72
19. Dylan Stein, Copper Hill Country Club 34-38-72
19. Gen Nagai, MGA Eclub – New Jersey 38-34-72
34. Dennis Lynch, Nassau Players Club 36-37-73
34. Zach Grossman, South Fork Country Club 35-38-73
34. Parker Mann, Met Restaurant Golf Club 36-37-73
34. Trevor Randolph, Arcola Country Club 37-36-73
34. Christopher White, Garden City Golf Club 36-37-73
34. Christian Cavaliere, Mahopac Golf and Beach Club 37-36-73
34. Sam Goldenring, Brooklake Country Club 36-37-73
34. Eric Ganshaw, Tamarack Country Club 36-37—73