Young, associate head coach of the Clemson University women’s golf team, shot 78-79—157, 15 over par and, with the afternoon wave of Friday’s second round just getting started, looked to be a dozen or so shots outside the cut line for the final two rounds of the championship that concludes Sunday.
But that didn’t mean she left the Country Club of Charleston in a sour mood—just the opposite.
“It's amazing,” Young said, when asked about the outpouring of support she enjoyed from Clemson fans who cheered her on, not just over the two tournament rounds but all week leading up to the championship.
“Every day, I'm surprised at the people. We have this Clemson family, and it's real. It's not just a saying; it's a feeling. ‘Go Tigers.’ I heard that more this week than I've ever been cheered for in my life, anywhere. It's been great.”
Young isn’t a stranger to life inside the tournament ropes. A veteran of 16 years and 28 career top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour, the former Heather Bowie, now 44, also can point to a 13th-place showing in the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open.
She finished third at the 2004 Women’s British Open, sixth in the 2000 Women’s PGA and played on the U.S. team in the 2003 Solheim Cup matches. Her only LPGA victory came at the 2005 Jamie Farr-Owens Corning Classic, where she beat Gloria Park on the third hole of a playoff.
But after getting into this week’s Open as the first alternate in a regional qualifier played at Starmount Forest in Greensboro, N.C., Young was making her first start in any professional event since 2017 and her first U.S. Open appearance since 2012.
“It's hard to compete when you haven't had the reps,” Young admitted. “You do have to put in the work, especially nowadays. The competition is so close. That's the way it is in college, too. I mean, the college players are a lot better.
“If you don't intentionally practice before going into an event, you can't really expect to play that well… When you're preparing for an event, you have to really intentionally prepare. It's not how many hours you do. It's the quality of the hours.”
Young said her brief time as a competitor in this year’s Open made her hungry for more. But more tournament appearances mean more practice – intense, focused practice.
“It's been fun,” she said. “I figured it was going to go one of two ways. It would either make me want to practice more or practice less. It definitely makes me want to practice more.”
“I don't like going out and shooting 78-79. If I didn't care, then I'd probably start practicing less. It just makes me realize I do still love this game. I do still love to compete.”
Regardless of her scores, Young said her Clemson players were behind her on every shot this week.
“They're very proud of me,” she said. “They're very excited that I'm here. I've had a lot of support. I've had more support in two days than maybe I've had in 15 years of playing golf. More support this week than I've had in my other 10 Opens, and that meant a lot to me, which I'm grateful for.”