Champ wins Utah Championship, secures first PGA TOUR card
July 15, 2018
By Alex Wood, PGATOUR.COM
- July 15, 2018
- Texas A&M alum Cameron Champ recorded scores of 61-64-67-68 at Oakridge CC, one clear of Steven Ihm. (Jared Clemons/PGA TOUR)
FARMINGTON, Utah – After taking the first-round lead at the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank, Tour rookie Cameron Champ said his goal for the week was simply to put together two solid rounds of play. Recently plagued by second-round stagnation, Champ wanted to break through in the Beehive State and begin putting himself in a good place to earn his first Tour title. The 23-year-old went on to follow up his opening-round 10-under 61 with rounds of 64-67-68–260 to finish the week at 24-under and earn his first Tour win, besting Steven Ihm by one stroke.
“It feels amazing,” he said after the win. “Coming down the stretch, just knowing where I was, knowing where I stood and what I needed to do, just to be able to do it under pressures that I’ve never felt before … It just felt great to finish.”
Champ, who held both the first- and second-round lead, came out of the gates firing Sunday at Oakridge Country Club, making birdie on four holes on the front nine to reclaim the lead over a leaderboard that was quickly closing in around him. The former Texas A&M University star seemed to be coasting to victory until an errant tee shot on No. 12 led him to his first bogey of the day.
“A little bit, probably,” he said when asked whether it was nerves that led to the error. “I think I hit two or three bad shots today that were probably slightly nerves, but I was able to come back from them and make some good pars. Today was awesome.”
The California native was able to remain calm despite the nerves, putting up strong numbers in every facet of the game. Champ hit 37-of-56 fairways over the course of the week and 59-of-72 greens. He was 10-of-13 in scrambling and led the field in driving distance. Overall, the first-year pro ended the week inside of the top 20 in every major statistical category.
“I think ball striking,” he said when asked what part of his game shone the most. “And I got the ball up and down when I needed to. I think that was big. And obviously this week I made five to seven 40-foot-plus putts, so that doesn’t happen really. When those go in, and I get the balls to go up and down with my ball striking, it just all kind of pieces together.”
The victory in Utah caps off a mid-season heater that began for Champ at the Nashville Golf Open Benefitting the Snedeker Foundation. After an up-and-down start to the season, Champ finished T11 to pick up his second top-20 finish of the year. He went on to finish the next four events T4-7-T5-T8 and enter the Utah Championship at a season-high 27th on the Regular Season money list. Along with the title, Champ picked up $126,000 in earnings, enough to push his season total to $249,991, moving him to No. 3 on the money list and locking up his PGA TOUR card for next season.
“It’s crazy to think about,” he said of the move. “Six or seven weeks ago I was 70th on the money list, and then I had a good five- or six-week stretch and now I’m here. It’s just amazing.”
Champ’s family and girlfriend were on-site to witness their son’s maiden victory. After sinking the winning putt, Champ walked over and embraced his father, awestruck at the outcome of the week. The weekend had marked his first time in contention on Tour, and when push came to shove he had been able to finish on top.
“It’s huge for me personally,” he remarked about being able to thrive under pressure. “Just knowing where I was six weeks ago, to play like I have been, and then obviously to come here and win, it’s just – I’m kind of just on cloud nine. It’s awesome.”
Cameron Champ wins Utah Championship