Cameron Young doesn’t want to hear about how this week’s John Deere Classic field is weak.
Young, at No. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is the highest-ranked player teeing it up at TPC Deere Run, where 26 top-100 players, including nine of the top 50, are also set to compete.
“Anyone who wants to call a PGA Tour field weak is probably not correct,” Young said Wednesday. “You can’t call any PGA Tour-sanctioned field weak. The Canadian Tour, the competition is amazing. Korn Ferry Tour is really strong. It’s a very difficult tour to play on. Out here it is obviously very difficult to succeed. I think it’s just not a realistic way to look at it. Any one field on the PGA Tour, there are 150 really good golfers. It’s just a battle of who plays well that week.”
There’s a decent chance someone plays well from Young’s grouping the first two rounds. Young has just three top-10s this year on Tour, although one was a T-7 at the Masters, and has mostly struggled this summer, cracking the top 50 once in his last seven starts. But he is the reigning PGA Tour player of the year and said Wednesday that, “I think the finishes don’t really capture how I’ve played.”
Young is grouped with Nick Hardy, a Chicago native, and hotshot Swede and Ryder Cup hopeful Ludvig Aberg, who competed early last week in Detroit before slipping to T-40, his worst finish in three starts as a pro – he cracked the top 25 in each of his first two Tour appearances since turning pro out of Texas Tech.
“I don’t know him at all,” Young said. “I don’t know what his world ranking is. I have no clue. I would love to look it up actually. Whatever it is right now, it’s not high enough. He is realistically one of the best players in the world already. I think he has proven that over the last few weeks. Canada and last week in Detroit. I can’t remember other ones, but just watching him play, just the eye, you just can tell. He is very, very good at golf.”
Young was then informed that Aberg was No. 528.
“Yeah, that’s not right,” Young replied.
There’s an outside shot that Young could find himself opposite Aberg this September in Sweden. Young is ranked 10th in US points while Aberg, despite only being pro for about a month, has been rumored to be high on European captain Luke Donald’s watch list.
Donald and Aberg played together for two rounds in Detroit.
“It was a lot of fun,” Aberg said of that pairing on Tuesday. “It was a little bit nervous, but, Luke, he was a great guy. We talked a little bit at least during the round and got to know him a little bit more. If you would have asked me a few weeks ago if the Ryder Cup was on my mind, no, absolutely not, because I was still in college and I didn’t think about it. But obviously being in that situation a little bit more, as a competitor and as a golfer, Ryder Cup is something you dreamed of since from the first time you saw it as a little kid… All I can do is try to prepare for every tournament and try to do as good as I can and see where that takes me.
“Sometime in my career I would love to play a Ryder Cup, absolutely.”
In Wednesday’s pro-am, Aberg, No. 1 among this year’s PGA Tour University graduates, played alongside likely the next No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, who has some golf game as well.
“He is going to be a fun one to watch,” Clark said of Aberg. “I’ll definitely keep my eyes on him.”
Her and everyone else, including Donald.