The Longshot: Cam Young can go deep at Hollow to register first win

It's about time the talented Major contender had a victory on the USPGA Tour
The Longshot: Cam Young can go deep at Hollow to register first win

Cameron Young is yet to win on the PGA Tour. Can he change that this weekend?

QUAIL HOLLOW sounds a bit like a small American town where an unlucky-in-love thirtysomething moves to get away from the rat race after too many bad Tinder dates in the big city.

The first person she bumps into there is a gruff carpenter with a heart of gold and hands that can carve a place in hers. It’s probably streaming on Netflix and your significant other is planning to hog the TV for weeks watching it, eating into hours and hours of golf coverage.

It is of course not that place, but rather the usual venue for the Wells Fargo Championship, which was first held there 20 years ago and has hosted all but two of its outings since (it was played at TPC Potomac last year as Quail Hollow was hosting the President’s Cup, and Max Homa (22/1) was the winner, adding a second Wells Fargo title to his 2019 win).

This year the tournament is one of the ‘designated events’ meaning a $20m purse and a whopping $3.6m to the winner.

That means we see the return of Rory McIlroy (8/1), a three-time winner and the best Irish hope considering Shane and Seamus (55/1 and 125/1) are suffering a dip in form and have never prospered at this venue (which hosted the PGA Championship won by Justin Thomas (22/1) in 2017).

The top two players in the world golf rankings, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler, are taking their one opt-out here, the former following his runner-up showing against Tony Finau (16/1) in Mexico last weekend.

Rory has opted out of two designated events this year despite having had to surrender millions in incentives doing so (and after promoting them last year and insisting he would lead the way if other players were hesitant in committing to them).

He skipped the RBC Heritage for probably justifiable reasons after the massive disappointment of missing the cut at the Masters, which was the last tournament he teed up in.

He won this event as recently as 2021 and also in 2015, when he was seven strokes clear of the field and the top prize was a third of what it is now. His first USPGA Tour win was also at this tournament back in 2010 after shooting 62 in the final round when he became the first player since Tiger Woods to win a PGA Tour event prior to his 21st birthday.

Rickie Fowler’s (40/1) first tour win also came at Quail Hollow, 11 years ago.

Other than Rahm and Sheffler, the rest of the top 10 are competing. Jordan Spieth (22/1) is making his first start in Charlotte since 2013. He was 5-0-0 at the President’s Cup here last September and the top point scorer for the American side.

Matt Fitzpatrick (22/1) made his tournament debut last year and finished tied for second but will play at the North Carolina venue for the first time. He finished tied for 10th at the Masters before winning the RBC Heritage so is in decent form.

The tournament has seen some epic collapses: Sergio Garcia managed to give up a six-stroke lead in 2005. Having the lead in the clubhouse is often better than heading down the 17th or 18th tied.

Longshots needn’t be ruled out with three of the last 10 winners coming in at a whopping 500-1 or better and five have opened at longer than 66-1.

A name appearing near the top of leaderboards recently is Sungjae Im (25/1), who has four top-10 finishes over the past three months and a T16 a few weeks back at the Masters.

Jason Day is the same price as Im and I’ve been hot on him for a while. He won it in 2017 and the course seems to suit his game.

I’m going to opt for someone who is yet to register a PGA tour win somehow, Cam Young.

The New Yorker twice finished in the top three in major championships at the PGA and Open last year and has the game to top a leaderboard before long. He was in the top 10 at Augusta and is one of the best drivers and putters out there and seems to relish tougher courses.

James and Curry to meet in bid to reach conference decider

IT’S five years since the two most talented basketballers on the planet met on a court in the NBA playoffs, which have reached the conference semi-final stages (or quarter-finals in our currency).

For the first time since 2018, LeBron James and Steph Curry face each other in a seven-game series. The two NBA legends met in the finals four years in a row from 2015-2018, and now they will battle for the right to reach the Western Conference decider. The Golden State Warriors won the 2015, 2017, and 2018 NBA finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers (when LeBron returned to his hometown club) while Cleveland beat the Warriors in seven games in 2016. Kevin Durant, now with the Suns, joined the Warriors in the following off-season, making their side close to impossible to beat the next two seasons.

James’ LA Lakers knocked out the Memphis Grizzlies in six games in their initial playoff game. The Warriors needed a seventh game on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings and Curry had to score 50 points to help them through, the first time anyone has done that in a game seven in NBA history.

James is coming off one of his worst efforts in a playoff series in his career. He overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the highest scorer in history this season but in the six-game win over Memphis he averaged 22.2 points and scored just 20% from the three-point range. An injured leg is to blame, but if he’s held below 25 points in this series, the Lakers are probably going to lose. The Warriors are 4/5 to progress and the Lakers 11/10.

The Boston Celtics, who are 2/9 to overcome the Philadelphia 76ers in their quarter-final, are 11/8 favourites to be crowned overall champs an 18th time and overtake the Lakers as the most successful team in history. The Lakers are 9/1 to take that accolade.

The Warriors are third in the roll of honour and in the hunt for an eighth title and are 6/1 second favourites alongside the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns who meet in the Western Conference semis (Denver are 1-0 up) are looking for a maiden championship win.

GAAGO now finely tuned

WE GOT GAAGO the weekend before last, if only so we can see the cruel ways in which our accumulators can crumble late on in games.

That opening weekend of action was fun. There was something up with the sound and viewers heard more from the producers than the presenters to begin with. For three games in a row that I watched, pre-match pundits’ mouths were moving but no noises were coming from the TV speakers. The camerawork wasn’t much better, or maybe it was simply avant garde. At one stage in the build-up we kept zooming in and out from the brow of presenter Grá¡inne McElwain, close-ups someone not so conventionally attractive would not have appreciated.

Following this our intrepid auteur left his lens open as he wandered off the pitch, out a gate and proceeded to get some footage of raindrops plopping into a puddle (zooming in and out again of course).

The weekend just gone these issues seemed to have ironed out and there was less mise en scéne and more conventional talking heads we could actually hear. In fact, other than it being frustratingly slow trying to rewind or forward action you have paused or recorded, it is pretty good for a streaming service just set up and is already more user-friendly than the dreaded RTÉ Player.

Louth & proud

LOUTH are 9/1 to beat the Dubs in the Leinster final in a fortnight and capture their first title since 1957.

They should of course have been crowned champs in 2010 when they were robbed of the title in the last throw of the game.

They kicked 27 points on Sunday against Offaly after extra time, while Dublin were pushed all the way by a Kildare team with an All-Star sideline, but with few on the pitch who anyone considered would push their neighbours all the way.

Cluxton returned between the posts for the Dubs and familiar faces (Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion showed flashes but nothing too spectacular) all over the pitch for the men in Blue makes you wonder if they are not trying to squeeze too much from their golden generation. They remain 5/2 to lift Sam despite the uninspiring showing.

Blue revenge?

LAST year’s Champions Cup finalists had perfunctory semi wins to set up a repeat in Dublin on May 20. Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle ran in seven tries against Exeter (who scored three late on to put some respect on a 47-28 score) and are 11/4 to defend their title against a Leinster side looking to put recent European blips behind them and capture a first title in five years. The Blues are 4/11 to do so at Lansdowne Road following their last-gasp defeat last May in Marseilles.

Both sides have enjoyed 100%-win records in this season’s competition, topping their pools before marching through the knockout stages, but It’s difficult to see Leo Cullen’s side messing up at home following their 41-22 defeat of Toulouse.

The Bet 

CAMERON YOUNG was runner-up last year, albeit on a different track, but can go one better this year at the Wells Fargo championships in Charlotte. It’s about time he broke his duck on the PGA Tour at 25/1.

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