Prairie Ridge’s Cameron Karney ended his four-year varsity career in style, firing a 1-over-par 143 at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University in Normal to place third out of 109 golfers.
Karney’s 143 set the program’s record for lowest total score at a state meet, beating former teammate and two-time Northwest Herald Boys Golfer of the Year Ethan Farnam, who had a 147 his junior and senior years (Class 3A).
Led by Karney, Prairie Ridge advanced to state as a team and placed sixth at the Class 2A state meet in the 12-team field. Karney, who will continue his academic and athletic career at Western Illinois, also led the Wolves to regional and sectional team titles.
No other Wolves team had advanced to state, missing by four shots in 2014, eight shots in 2015 and six shots in 2016.
Karney placed first at regionals with an 80 and second at sectionals with a 74. He posted rounds of 70 and 73 at the state tournament and was third at the Fox Valley Conference Tournament with a 71.
For his accomplishments, Karney was selected Northwest Herald Boys Golfer of the Year by the sports staff with input from area coaches. Karney becomes the third straight Prairie Ridge golfer to win the award. Farnam, now at Northwestern, earned the honor the past two seasons.
Karney recently spoke with sports writer Alex Kantecki about his favorite memories from senior year, what he’s looking forward to the most at Western Illinois, why he believes there should be more smack talk in golf, and more.
How did you get your start in golf?
Karney: My dad used to be a club pro in California. It just kind of ran in my family. As soon as I was old enough to stand, I was swinging a golf club.
If you could have any vehicle, what would it be?
Karney: I’d take the Batmobile.
What is the best round you’ve ever shot?
Karney: A couple of years ago, I was playing a course in California (Maderas Golf Club). It’s one of the hardest courses in California. I shot a 74, and I was only 15 years old. All my family was there with me, and that was probably the best they’ve ever seen me play. It was really long for me.
Who is your favorite golfer?
Karney: Ricky Fowler. I like the way he plays. He carries himself with confidence, but he also is a nice guy on the tour.
If you could have a sandwich named in your honor, what would be on it, and what would you call it?
Karney: A combination of Italian beef and Italian sausage, and I would call it, ‘The Cam.’
What is your favorite ice cream?
Karney: Chocolate chip cookie dough.
Which professional athlete would you like to hang out with for a day?
Karney: Buster Posey. I was born near San Francisco, so I’m a Giants fan.
Who is your favorite professional sports team?
Karney: San Francisco Giants.
Which teammate makes you laugh the most?
Karney: James Michaelson, hands down. He’s one of my best friends. Every time I’m with him, even in class, he’s the funniest kid there is.
Which teammate inspires you?
Karney: Grant Klepitsch. He was a sophomore this year. I saw what he did, and he put in so much work and he played his first varsity start at sectionals, and I think that took a lot of guts.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want with you?
Karney: My golf clubs, PlayStation 4 and the “Lord of the Rings” movies.
If you could change one thing about golf, what would it be?
Karney: I would make it more rowdy, I guess you can say. When you hit the ball, people go wild. Or, whenever I play with my friends, we are always talking smack to each other, and that’s a part of human nature. It brings a lot of fun to the game.
What sports moment was so huge that you’ll always remember where you were when it happened?
Karney: I would have to say last year’s Super Bowl when the Patriots were down, 28-3.
Do you have a most memorable shot?
Karney: At state, on the par-4, fifth, I flicked an iron off the tee and put it into the left trees. From 145 yards to the pin over the trees and I put it in the hole. That was a lot of fun.
Who is someone you look up to?
Karney: I would definitely say my dad, Mike.
What are three movies you can watch over and over?
Karney: “The Dark Knight,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Inception.”
What’s something that most people wouldn’t know about you?
Karney: I play piano. Every time someone finds out, they’re really surprised.
What was your favorite class in high school?
Karney: AP U.S. History, because my teacher, Mr. Terhaar, is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.
What scares you?
What superhero power would you like to have?
Karney: I would want to be able to teleport because that would make everything so much easier.
Where would you most like to go on vacation?
Karney: One place I’ve always really wanted to go to was Dubai. They have the tallest building in the world there, so that’s cool, and they’ve got some nice golf courses and beaches. It seems like the full package to me.
What will you remember most about your senior season?
Karney: I think I’ll just remember the thrill we had as a team when we first got down to state, at sectionals when we realized we were going down to state. The amount of fun we had when we went down there, just hanging out and having a good time.
What are you looking forward to the most at Western Illinois?
Karney: They have a lot of good, young players, so I look to go down there, play well, win some tournaments and just have fun down there.