By Antonio R. Harvey | Observer Staff Writer

Local professional golfer Cameron Champ was in pursuit of a coveted green jacket in the 2021 Masters Tournament held in Augusta, Georgia last weekend.

Champ entered the weekend tied for 6th after making a strong Friday charge where he shot 68. Champ stalled on the weekend however. He ended up shooting 1-over for the tournament, finishing in a tie for 26th. Hideki Matsuyama outlasted the competition, becoming the first Japanese player to ever win the Masters.

His showing was witnessed by Lee Elder, 86, the first Black golfer to play in the Masters. Elder joined Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as the ceremonial starter for the major tournament.

“With Lee Elder and my family being here, it definitely made, for me, kind of feeling like it’s my first Masters,” Champ said.

Saturday rain changed the course of the tournament, and Champ struggled to shoot a round of 5-over 77 to take him out of contention. Sunday, he showed resilience to shoot par. Champ, 25, also played an even second nine, producing three birdies and a near ace at hole No. 16. 

Champ is in his third season on the PGA Tour. He played at Texas A&M from fall 2014 through summer 2017 before turning professional. He quickly joined the Tour (now Korn Ferry Tour) and earned his PGA Tour card after winning the Utah Championship in July 2018. 

He won his first PGA title by taking home the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi in October 2018. He followed that up the next season with his second PGA Tour win at the Safeway Open in Napa.

In 2020, Champ finished tied for 10th in the PGA Championship and tied for 19th at the Masters. His best finish at the U.S. Open was as an amateur in 2017 when he finished tied for 32nd. 

Last month, Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) Athletics, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Prairie View, Texas, hosted Champ to “The Hill” for a donor presentation, the Mack Champ Scholarship Program. 

He made a $40,000 donation from the Cameron Champ Foundation and Chevron to establish two scholarships for PVAMU’s men’s and women’s golf teams. The scholarship fund is named after his late grandfather, Mack “Pops” Champ.

Cameron and his father Jeff Champ, a former professional baseball player and co-founder of the Cameron Champ  Foundation, held a joint virtual news conference to celebrate this strong show of support for diversity in golf.

According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), only 3% of recreational golfers are Black. Among competitive golfers, including youth golfers, it’s 1.5%.

Champ, who is ranked No. 77 in the world, is one of four Black golfers on the PGA Tour. The other Blacks on Tour include Tiger Woods, Harold Varner III and Joseph Bramlett.