KERSHAW COUNTY, SC — Skeptics tended to file Carson Young’s come-from-behind victory in the 2012 Carolinas Amateur under “F” for “fluke.” Their reasoning: Erasing a seven-stroke deficit to win a big title will never happen again.
Young proved that wrong Sunday. He again came from nowhere — seven strokes behind at the day’s outset — to earn another piece of hardware for his growing trophy collection, this one for the 82nd South Carolina Amateur Championship.
A June graduate of Pendleton High who will enroll at Clemson in two weeks, Young forged a 5-under 66 at the Members Club’s Woodcreek course to earn the South Carolina Golf Association’s top prize by two strokes.
“He’s won about everything he has entered,” SCGA executive director Happ Lathrop said.
He won this one by overcoming third-round leader Ben Fogler, who struggled to a 4-over 75 on Sunday, before fending off a challenge from Will Murphy down the stretch.
“I thought about the Carolinas Amateur and knew (a comeback) could be done,” said Young, who finished sixth in this event a year ago. “I just wanted to make as many birdies as I could and see what happened.”
He birdied three of his first four holes, but he did not take the lead alone until his two-putt birdie on the par-5 17th. Then, in the day’s final threesome, both Fogler and Murphy missed birdie putts to tie on 17, and both bogeyed 18, leaving Young two strokes clear at 12-under 272 after four trips around Woodcreek’s 6,942-yard layout.
Everything fell into place for the champion, who shared the first-round lead with a 66 before falling back with a pair of 70s in the middle rounds. Conversely, everything went wrong for Fogler — the son of former USC basketball coach Eddie Fogler — over the final 10 holes, and his commanding lead melted away.
Young, who followed Cody Proveaux in becoming the second straight incoming Clemson freshman to earn the State Amateur title, said he did not know the scores until he saw the crowds growing larger around the 16th green and along the 17th hole and thought he might be close to the lead. His key shots come on the greens, the 40-foot bomb for birdie on 13 and the 25-footer to save par on the 14th.
Fogler, a rising junior at Vanderbilt playing on his home course, three-putted the ninth for his first bogey of the day, but he still owned a four-shot lead over Murphy, a USC golfer from Columbia, with Young five back.
But neither Fogler nor Murphy would make a birdie on the back nine, and Fogler incurred a one-stroke penalty for accidentally stepping on his ball after playing out of a hazard on the 13th hole. That led to a double-bogey, and the scores tightened.
Fogler had talked earlier in the tournament about how one bad round had spoiled his tournaments this summer, and that happened Sunday. He opened with a pair of 66s and followed with a 67 to open a five-stroke lead.
Still, both he and Murphy, who received a slow-play warning on the back nine, came to the final hole one stroke behind. Both tee shots went right, and Murphy’s second hit a tree, ending his hopes. Fogler found the green, but he faced a 20-foot putt with a huge break and missed.
“I just didn’t make anything on the greens,” said Murphy, who finished fourth in the 2012 Amateur. “I thought the putt on 17 had to go in. But just getting in position to win is a positive. I will learn from this, from both the good and the bad.”
Meanwhile, Young, who tops the state’s junior golf rankings, likely will go to the top of the overall player of the year rankings. And he has one more date on his calendar before starting college; he plays in the U.S. Amateur a week from today.