AUSTIN, Texas — A year ago, Scottie Scheffler used a newfound swagger and closing ability to roll through the bracket at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and capture his third PGA Tour title in just seven weeks. A theory making the rounds at the time was that Scheffler’s comfortable connection with new caddie Ted Scott, formerly on Bubba Watson’s bag, helped boost the former University of Texas star to new heights.
Could a similar scenario be playing out at Austin Country Club again this year?
Rising star Cameron Young, who sits at No. 17 in the Official World Golf Ranking and No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, is playing his first event with accomplished looper Paul Tesori, who had been on the bag of Webb Simpson for a dozen years before a recent split. Tesori, a former player, carried Simpson’s bag for all seven of his PGA Tour wins, and had previously worked with Jerry Kelly and then-No. 1 Vijay Singh.
If the early returns are any indication, Tesori is steering Young down a familiar path. During Wednesday’s opening match, the former Wake Forest star blasted out to a 5-up lead over Davis Thompson through nine and coasted home to a 3-and-2 victory.
Conversely, he used a crucial closing stretch on Thursday to come-from-behind on Corey Conners. Young made eagle on No. 16 to even up the match, then birdied the next hole to surge ahead.
He pushed his drive well right on the day’s final hole but kept his composure and made par to hang on for the 1-up victory.
“I feel like I played really nicely. I didn’t make a ton until late. I feel like I kind of watched Corey make a bunch of six-, seven-footers. I’m sure it wasn’t that many, but it felt like it, kind of through the first 14 holes,” Young said.
“Then, obviously, to finish with two good putts on 16 and 17 was really nice. I got a good break on 18, honestly, to have any kind of shot. Almost took advantage of it with a wedge, but just nice to get out of there with par and tie that hole.”
Of course, it’s not like Young was struggling before adding the veteran Tesori to his team. He’d made the cut in all eight starts this season and posted a T-10 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill three weeks ago.
Still, the working relationship with Tesori seems to be off on the right foot, and with plenty of history between the two, it’s not a huge surprise.
“I’ve obviously been around him a lot,” Young said. “Webb and I played a practice round together 22 times this past year, so I’ve been around him a ton, so it’s really comfortable. I think he just brings a ton of energy, which is good for me. I’m kind of pretty flat-lined. But it’s been great so far.
“I’m excited for the rest of the week.”
In addition to winning the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Simpson and Tesori teamed to win the 2018 Players Championship near Tesori’s childhood home of Jacksonville, Florida, represented the U.S. in multiple Ryder and Presidents Cups and climbed to a career-best of fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking.
But with a new player comes new questions and a new set of challenges. Young said he and Tesori seem to be tackling those with ease.
“We’re still in an interesting stage because he’s still asking a lot of questions, and I’m still explaining a lot more than I probably would. So we’re both just in a learning phase, and I think it’ll come together really quick,” Young said. “It just makes it really comfortable personally. We’ve been together enough to just have whatever random conversations out there. It’s just really easy personality-wise, and I think just generally hanging out together has made it a lot easier knowing that we’ve played a million holes together, even if he wasn’t carrying my own bag.”