To be a PGA Tour champ is very special indeed. And when that player is a champ on and off the course, well, that’s better than a hole in one.
Currently, there are many bright stars on the PGA Tour, but none any brighter than Cameron Champ. If you are not familiar with the name, trust me, once hearing the Champ story about a grandfather and his love for his grandson, you’ll never forget it.
Champ was just two years old when his grandpa Mac took him to a low-end public golf facility and let him beat balls until his young hands began to hurt. Somehow, the pain would go away overnight, and the next day, the duo was at it again. The facility was a long way from first-class, costing Mac just $50 a month. Even at that tender age, Champ was so eager to learn the game that grandpa Mac knew his grandson was going to be something special.
As a professional, Champ had already experienced the difficulty and pressure of winning on the PGA Tour, taking the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship. But growing up in Northern California, he knew securing a win in the Napa region, only 60 miles from his home town, would be the most special win he could pull out, especially for grandpa Mac, who was in hospice care fighting a losing battle with stomach cancer. Despite all the demands of his tournament week, Champ made several 65-mile trips to see his “pops.” He was fully aware time was limited, and despite the added pressure and difficult task of focusing, he wanted to pull away with what he saw would forever be the biggest of his career.
Early in the final 18 holes, Champ was playing with a four-shot lead, but, as you might expect, that dwindled down to almost nothing. As he stood on the final tee box, Champ was made aware that he needed a birdie to secure the win. It was then that he remembered what his grandpa had preached — “Life is about where you are going, not where you have been” — and proceeded to pound a driver 369-yards right down the middle of the fairway.
It was the longest drive of the week. I’m sure adrenalin was racing through Champ’s body as he smacked the next shot, an eight iron, just shy of 200 yards, which left him with an easy chip and putt to put one in the books for grandpa Mac. After he secured the victory, he said, “I may go on and win more tournaments, but none will ever be as special as this one for pops.”
After the first three events on the 2019-20 wraparound PGA Tour schedule, there have been three tournaments, all of which have been won by young men in their early 20s, but Champ is the only one to have won before. This week, the Tour visits Las Vegas to raise money for Shriners Hospitals for Children and once again, someone will win another big check. Bryson DeChambeau is the defending champion, but he will have his work cut out for him as Brooks Koepka, the reigning PGA Champion, as well as the ever-popular Phil Mickelson, are also in the field.
In other news, last week in the Austin, TX area, the PGA Club pros were in action as USA went up against Great Britain and Ireland in a Ryder Cup-style match called the PGA Cup. This prestigious event for club pros alternates among the U.S., Great Britain, and Ireland every two years just like the Ryder Cup does, and while the U.S. has an overall winning record, they hadn’t won the PGA Cup outright since 2011. This year, the red, white, and blue rallied to claim the trophy after being down 10 matches to six going into the final day’s singles matches, proudly reclaiming the trophy for USA.