Champ extends lead after 36 holes at Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank
July 13, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- July 13, 2018
- Cameron Champ reacts to a putt during Round 2 of the Utah Championship. (Alex Wood / PGA TOUR)
FARMINGTON, UTAH – After taking the 18-hole lead Thursday at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, Cameron Champ said his biggest goal for the week was to put an end to his streak of stagnating in the second round. With another round in the books in Farmington, Utah, it’s safe to say Champ took his own goal to heart, posting a second-round 7-under 64 to extend his lead to three strokes heading into Saturday. Sitting three strokes back of Champ is Steven Ihm, who is making just his seventh start on Tour this week.
Beginning the second round on No. 10, Champ got off to a somewhat shaky start, pulling his drive so far left it almost went out of bounds. The 23-year-old was able to remain calm and save par on the hole before going on to pick up pars on the next four holes. That patience proved to be crucial for Champ, who has admittedly been working on the virtue since turning professional in November 2017.
“I get off to good starts,” he remarked after the round, “and then I just kind of pressure myself with putting and put too much pressure on it. Today I knew I was rolling it well, so I just stayed patient as much as I could and luckily I hit a few close and made some good 20-footers.”
Champ would close the day with six birdies and an eagle alongside just one bogey, good for a 17-under 36-hole score, setting a new tournament record in Utah. The round was another positive notch in a rookie season that has been heating up as of late for Champ, who entered the week in the Beehive State fresh off a string of T11-T4-7-T5-T8 finishes. Eight total top-25 finishes have him sitting at No. 27 on the Regular Season money list, just $7,710 outside of the final spot in The 25.
“It’s huge,” he commented about his late-season surge. “I would have never thought six weeks ago that I would be in this position, so I’m very happy with it and I’m just going to keep going.”
While Champ is chasing his first PGA TOUR card, University of Iowa alum Steven Ihm is chasing his first Web.com Tour card, hoping to finish well and earn a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals for the first time in his four-year stint as a professional. Ihm, who earned a spot in this week’s field after finishing T20 at last week’s LECOM Health Challenge, followed up an opening-round 63 with a six-under 65 Friday to finish the first two days at 14-under 128, the lowest 36-hole score of his professional career.
“People always say that you’re always just one good week away,” he remarked after his round, “and that any week could be your week and today, making a couple of those putts on the front nine, it just kind of felt like my week. I feel like I’ve been in a good scoring mindset. I might not have been hitting it that great today, I had a couple of wayward drives and whatnot, but you just have to have the mindset to keep giving yourself good looks and hopefully a couple of putts will fall.”
Though the 26-year-old made his first start on the Web.com Tour in 2014 at the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae, he’s never been able to make more than one start in a season. He finally advanced to the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament in 2017 but finished T65, two strokes shy of earning guaranteed starts for this year. Ihm Monday qualified into the 2018 Rust-Oleum Championship, where he made his first cut on Tour. He would get another start at last week’s LECOM Health Challenge, and a T20 finish allowed him to advance to play in Utah.
“It can be kind of a lost year if you don’t get any starts,” Ihm reflected, “especially after making the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, because it’s so hard to make Final Stage nowadays. It’s basically like finishing top 20 in three-consecutive tournaments. It feels great to get some production out of my status late in the season and hopefully we can make that run towards the Web.com Tour Finals at the end of the year.”
* Friday weather: Mostly sunny, High of 95, Winds NW 6-12 mph.
* This week’s purse is $700,000, with $126,000 going to the champion.
* The largest 36-hole lead in tournament history sits at six strokes, with David Sutherland entering the third round six clear of the field. Cameron Champ’s three-stroke lead marks the largest 36-hole lead on Tour this season (previously two-strokes, occurring four times).
* Champ currently sits inside of the top 5 in six major statistical categories on Tour: driving distance (first), eagles (first), scoring average – actual (fifth), total driving (second), all-around ranking (second), ball striking (first).
* Joey Garber, who won this year’s Rex Hospital Open, posted a second-round 6-under 65 on Friday, advancing to the weekend for the first time since his victory in Raleigh five weeks ago.
* Jacques Blaauw carded an ace on the par-3 fourth Friday, hitting his 9-iron 163 yards. The ace was the first of his career and the 34th in tournament history (the first since moving to Oakridge CC). Blaauw sits at 9-under 133 heading into Saturday, allowing him to advance to weekend play. This marks just the second time in 10 starts that he’s made the cut. His best finish this season is a T45 at the Savannah Golf Championship.
* There have been two wire-to-wire champions at the Utah Championship (Jeff Woodland, 1992 and Andres Gonzales, 2014). The last wire-to-wire winner on the Web.com Tour was Aaron Wise, who captured the 2017 Wichita Open Supporting Wichita’s Youth title in wire-to-wire fashion.
* In 26 iterations of the Utah Championship, 14 36-hole leaders/co-leaders have gone on to capture the title at the end of the week, with the most recent being Patton Kizzire in 2015. Through 17 events this season, just three second-round leaders have won their event: Ben Taylor, Country Club de Bogotá Championship; Julian Etulain, Chitimacha Louisiana Open presented by NACHER; Michael Arnaud, BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation.
* Recent BYU graduate Patrick Fishburn is making his Web.com Tour debut this week after receiving a sponsor’s exemption into the event. He sits at 8-under, more than enough to advance to the weekend.
* After opening with a double-bogey, Sam Burns went on to card two eagles and eight birdies to move to 12-under for the tournament, T5.
* 2017 SEC Championship winner Alejandro Tosti carded a 4-under 67 Friday to make the cut on the number and advance to weekend play.
* The cutline at the Utah Championship has only been even- or over-par three times, with the last being even-par 142 in 2005. The lowest cut in tournament history sits at 6-under 136, having occurred in both 2013 and 2017.
* Through 17 events, there has yet to be a repeat winner. Sam Burns and Joey Garber enter the weekend as the only 2018 champions inside the top 10.
* Oakridge Country Club scoring average:
Front (36) Back (35) Total
R1 34.858 34.258 69.116
R2 34.471 34.340 68.810
* NEXT WEEK: The Web.com Tour continues on to Omaha, Nebraska, for the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Chevy Heartland Dealers.