Champ has sights set on Web.com Tour
December 06, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Cameron Champ comments before OHL Classic
He was the talk of the U.S. Open this summer, and now Cameron Champ has his sights on the Web.com Tour.
Champ, 22, got into this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills after nailing a long birdie try in a playoff at his qualifying site and immediately made an impact. He was tied for fourth through two rounds and eventually finished tied for 32nd while he was still an amateur.
He turned professional this fall, and made his TOUR debut as a pro at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
He also comfortably made it through Second Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School and will try this week at Final Stage to earn solid playing status for the upcoming year on Tour, after leaving Texas A&M with one year of eligibility left.
The Californian led the entire field in driving distance at the U.S. Open, with more than 337 yards per pop. He had some fine results this summer at some key amateur events, and also helped the United States’ Walker Cup team to victory in September.
At Second Stage, Champ struggled in the third round, firing a 3-over-par 75 to leave him on the outside looking in. But, he bounced back with a 4-under 68 in the final round to qualify.
“I knew I had to put up a number… I wasn’t sure exactly what. I just played free golf,” he says. “I didn’t have any thoughts, and I played really well when I needed to.”
Champ says he tried to stick it as close as he could on every hole in the final round of Second Stage, but with smart targets.
“The final round I just tried to be aggressive and didn’t worry about anything,” says Champ. “I didn’t have any thoughts, like in the third round. It was two separate people, honestly.”
Champ has been working with noted instructor Sean Foley for nearly seven years. After suffering through back injuries as a junior golfer, Foley has been trying to work on having Champ’s swing be less aggressive on his tender back.
“How I create my power is part of the issue,” admits Champ. “It’s what caused the back injury to start. (Foley and I are) fine-tuning things and changing things slowly… not all at once because that would throw me way off, if he decided to change my whole swing.”
Champ says he has a ‘slingshot’ action, and that’s where his injury came from to begin with. He brings his swing to the top and drops down, compressing on his spine angle, which is how he got hurt in the first place. He says he’s trying to get away from that move, stand taller, and use his lower body versus his upper body.
“That’s just a process, because it’s how I’ve swung my whole life. It’ll take some time to change but that’s definitely what we’re working on.”
Champ says he has ‘no issues’ at all right now, health-wise. He admits it took him a while to get over the hurdle of not having to worry about his back and whether or not he needed to be tentative hitting a certain shot or not because of how he may feel. But this summer, he says, was the first time he didn’t need to worry about that because of the team around him who are all helping him to achieve the same goal.
The long bomber says he’s always been powerful on the course since he hit a growth spurt as a teenager. He says he was 5-foot-4 as a freshman in high school and grew upwards of six inches in a year.
“I noticed it most when my length started to kick in,” he says.
Major winners Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, and Rory McIlroy also took notice of Champ at the U.S. Open this year due to his length. Although Champ’s magical week fizzled out in the final round, he says it was a great experience for him as his professional career is now underway.
“I knew the course fit me really well and I knew I had a chance to play well. But it’s a U.S. Open course, so if you made a little mistake you could make a double (bogey) here or there. But I think the first two rounds I had blinders on. I think I missed two fairways and didn’t hit it in the tall (stuff). I was hitting it straight. Every drive I hit I just tried to hit it as hard as I could, and it was going dead straight. That mindset of just free-wheeling it, not worrying about it too much, and playing my own game… that’s what I took from that week,” he recalls.
“The last two days I started to realize where I was and I think I handled it pretty well for the most part. That’s what kicked in, the last two days, realizing where I’m at and what tournament I was actually playing in,” he continues with a laugh.
After a fine U.S. Open appearance, a laundry list of amateur success, and two PGA TOUR starts this fall (he also played the Safeway Open), Champ comes into Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School focused on the task at hand.
He’ll take the same approach from Second Stage into this week in Arizona.
“I’m just going to try to be more ‘smart aggressive,’” he says.