In his second start as a PGA Tour member, Cameron Champ claimed his first victory taking out the Sanderson Farms Championship. At age 23, Champ birdied five of his final six holes for a four stroke victory over Corey Conners. Although the big guns were not there it was still an impressive victory for the tour rookie.
And to think he almost didn’t turn pro last fall. Champ was in college attending Texas A&M and tried to qualify for his Tour card through the Web.com. He was planning to finish his senior year if he didnt advance through and a third-round 75 left him outside the cut line with one round remaining. He closed in 68, including a birdie at the last, to advance to the final stage with three shots to spare.
“It’s pretty unreal,” he said. “I can think back to second stage when I kind of almost choked with three holes to go. I made a great putt on 17 to move on to finals.”
Advancing to Q-School’s final stage guaranteed him Web.com Tour status for 2018. He finished sixth on the money list, including a win at the Utah Championship, to earn his TOUR card.
The Sanderson victory comes with an exemption that will last nearly three years, through the end of the 2020-21 season. He also earns spots in THE PLAYERS Championship, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, PGA Championship and the TOUR’s invitational events. Champ’s booming tee shots should play well on the wide, sloping fairways of Kapalua’s Plantation Course.
Champ can set his schedule instead of thinking about the reshuffle and keeping his card. He has the early, early lead in the Rookie of the Year race and moves to sixth in the FedExCup standings.
He dominated the Country Club of Jackson’s back nine, which features two par-5s (Nos. 11 and 13) and the drivable, par-4 15th hole. He was 16 under on the course’s inward half and didn’t make a bogey.
Champ’s trademark driving distance was key to his victory. He finished first in driving distance, averaging 308 yards on all holes and 334 yards on the measured holes. He was second in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, as well. Champ also finished second in Strokes Gained: Putting (+2.27 per round) and ninth in greens hit (55 of 72), despite hitting just 11 in the final round.
Now he has a guaranteed home on the PGA TOUR.