TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 28: Cameron Champ
December 03, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- December 03, 2018
Cameron Champ claims first PGA TOUR win at Sanderson Farms
Fans love the long ball. Cameron Champ is further proof.
His prodigious length landed him on the cover of Golf Digest magazine after his first tournament as a PGA TOUR rookie. He showed that he’s more than just a sideshow by winning his next start, the Sanderson Farms Championship.
As the only rookie to win this fall, Champ is the early frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year Award. He no longer has to worry about keeping his card – he’s exempt until the end of the 2021 season – and has upcoming starts at big events like the Sentry Tournament of Champions, THE PLAYERS Championship and PGA Championship. (Side note: Champ’s tee balls should play nicely on the sloping fairways of Kapalua’s Plantation Course.)
His length receives an inordinate amount of attention, but for good reason. He leads the TOUR in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee at 1.483 strokes per round. That accounts for 70 percent of the strokes he gains per round.
At the Sanderson Farms, he had an average of 152 yards left to the hole after his tee shot. That was nearly 30 yards closer than the field average. He covered more than two-thirds of the Country Club of Jackson with his tee shots.
Hitting it far is nice. Hoisting trophies is better.
Champ has done both. -- By Sean Martin
BY THE NUMBERS
How Cameron Champ ranked in Strokes Gained statistics during his last full season on the PGA TOUR:
Current 2018-19 position: 6th
Playoff appearances: 0
TOUR Championship appearances: 0
Best FedExCup result: The PGA TOUR rookie has put himself in good shape to reach the TOUR Championship after a fantastic performance in the fall portion of the schedule.
SHOTLINK FUN FACT
Cameron Champ hit 43 drives of 340 yards or longer during the fall portion of the 2018-19 wrapahead schedule. That’s 22 more drives than the next highest player (Seth Reeves) on that list.
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Cameron Champ in 2019.
TOUR INSIDER: It takes more than long tee shots to win on the PGA TOUR. Champ also used stellar putting to win the Sanderson Farms Championship. He finished second in Strokes Gained: Putting that week. “That's definitely been a part of my game I've worked on extremely hard on on the Web.com Tour last year,” he said. “I've kind of been a streaky putter at times. (I’m) just trying to slowly grow other parts of my game as well. Short game and putting, but mainly putting, because my ball striking has been so good.” -- By Sean Martin
FANTASY INSIDER: It's not supposed to be this easy; well, it's not supposed to look this easy. I slotted the PGA TOUR rookie a conservative 129th in my full-membership fantasy ranking before the season started, but he's already exceeded even elevated expectations with a seamless rise to the golf's top shelf, so much so that his debut in our annual Top 30 series already feels low. Make no mistake that his strength off the tee is a bonus because he's a terrific putter and scorer. His only weakness is inexperience, at least it's supposed to be. Up next is Kapalua, where the longest drive in recorded history is Davis Love III's 476-yard poke on the par-5 18th hole in the final round in 2004. With the proper wind (or perhaps not), consider that in jeopardy. -- By Rob Bolton
EQUIPMENT INSIDER: Champ has extremely high club head speed compared to his contemporaries (leading the Tour at 129.6 miles per hour), and he already has a legendary story about breaking his driver. Just minutes before teeing off on Sunday at the 2018 Sanderson Farms, which he won, Champ broke his Ping G400 Max driver on the range due to his tremendous speed. Luckily, Champ had a backup driver with his specs – 9 degrees with a Fujikura Pro White TS 63X shaft. Also of note, Champ uses two different 4 irons: a Ping i500 4-iron and a Ping iBlade 4 iron. The different constructions allow Champ to properly fill his yardage gaps. -- By Andrew Tursky
STYLE INSIDER: If any player was born to wear Nike, it is Champ. The combination of his surname, athletic build, and freakishly long drives make him a perfect fit for the image Nike is selling. While Champ won’t wow you with fancy kits, the razor-sharp tailoring of his clothing will continue to get him noticed. -- By Greg Monteforte