By Antonio R. Harvey | Observer Staff Writer
Local golfer Cameron Champ has had his highs and lows since joining the PGA Tour about three years ago. But what he has accomplished within that timeframe has been done by very few golfers in the history of the game.
By claiming the 3M Championship under intense humidity in Blaine, Minnesota last weekend, Champ, 26, has earned a win in each of the three seasons to start his career. Only 16 players in PGA Tour history have started their careers with wins in each of their first five seasons. Champ is more than halfway there.
“It’s definitely a very special accomplishment and it’s amazing to be among those talented players,” Champ told The OBSERVER. “It’s all still surreal for me to think back on how far I have already come with what I’ve achieved in my career so far. It makes me feel incredibly grateful for all who have believed in me along the way.”
Champ won the 3M tournament by two strokes. But overall, he shot an impressive five-under par 66 on the last day of competition for a final total of 15-under 269. Champ has not been showing great form this season. He has had nine missed cuts and one withdrawal over his first 16 starts of 2021. The win allowed him to jump from 142nd to 49th in the FedEx Cup standings, with the top 125 qualifying for the playoff opener.
Another notable from the 3M victory is the fact that Champ joins Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, and Bryson DeChambeau as the only under-27-year-olds with a win in each of the last three seasons.
“This win feels really big for me, on a personal level. It has been a very tough year, but I’ve been working on allowing myself to be the player that I know I can be, so this achievement is very reassuring and motivating,” he said.
“I know I’m headed in the right direction, so just sticking to my current process and focusing on myself is how I’ll build on this.”
One thing is for sure: the community of Sacramento stands by him whether he struggles, finishes strong in competition, or flat out claims victory in high-profile tournaments.
Local concert promoter Elliot “CoCo” Wallace, who has been following Champ’s career through home school, college, and now the professional ranks, said on his Facebook page that the young golfer was “committed to putting in the hard work” during humid, 90-degree temperatures.
“Man, I have to give it to you Cam. Everyone could tell that the heat kind of got you a little dehydrated and not feeling well,” said Wallace. “But you really sucked it up and had one of your best rounds this season. You really stepped up.”
From a purse of $6.6 million, Cameron Champ walked away with $1.188 million. The second 3M Championship place finishers — who all tied in that position — each pocketed $499,400.
The victory is one of those times when Champ had full control of his skills and played well under pressure.
“Anything is possible no matter how deep you get,” Champ said during an interview with NBC Sports following his win. “It’s been a rough path for me since January to June and July. The last few weeks have been really good to me, personally, to figure out how to do it. I just think I’m in a much better headspace with life. I am enjoying myself.”
In Sacramento, and the surrounding area, residents know the young man is still learning the ropes and they will support him through thick and thin. He’s only one of three Black players with exemptions on the PGA Tour, including Tiger Woods and Harold Varner III.
Champ said all he wants is to play golf and win. He told The OBSERVER that he is only concentrating on how he can get better with each major tournament.
“I’m going to continue to stick to my process and focus on what works best for me,” Champ said. “It’s about having trust in what I’m capable of, staying true to myself, and finding balance right now. I think that is the best approach to lead me to success in any tournament.”
Wallace, who assists Champ’s father Jeff Champ in running the Cameron Champ Foundation, said he is continuously seeing the growth in the young golfer who left Texas A&M early to start his professional career.
“So much maturity displayed in your victory interview and brutally honest about struggles we all face in life. Enjoy your victory,” Wallace said of Champ.