Far down the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup points list, Cameron Champ knew what was at stake in August in Indiana: Finish first or second in the Junior PGA Championship to qualify for the Junior Ryder Cup, or be prepared to have his access to the international event limited to TV highlights in the quiet of his Sacramento home.
A triple bogey on the 15th hole in the final round cost Champ the Junior PGA lead. A bogey on No. 16 cost him all margin for error if he was going to represent his country.
Champ steadied himself with a par on No. 17. He faced a 30-foot birdie chip on No. 18 make it and qualify for the team; make a par and play off for a Junior Ryder Cup berth; make a bogey and be left to wonder what if.
He made the chip. He'll never be happier to finish second.
Monday and Tuesday at Olympia Fields in Illinois, Champ will be among six boys and six girls 18 and younger representing America against an elite European team in the eighth Junior Ryder Cup. Livermore's Casie Cathrea, a First Tee of Greater Sacramento regular, also is on the team.
The chip-in was memorable for multiple reasons, but largely "because I knew what was at stake," Champ said.
His oh-my-gosh moment came two weeks ago when red, white and blue pants, shirts, belts and shoes arrived via special delivery.
"It was like an early birthday and Christmas present all at once," he said.
Champ, 17, will play two matches with a partner Monday and a singles match Tuesday. It's the first time he's represented his country, and he said he'll keep the fun and games to a minimum.
"I'm going to be pretty intense," he said. "I'm probably going to be the most competitive guy there."
The teams (3-3-1 in seven encounters) will play a friendship match that Wednesday at nearby Medinah, where the Ryder Cup will be contested later in the week.
"That's going to be exciting," Champ said.
Pretty much like everything he's involved with these days.
The fifth installment of "Tee Time: Golf in Northern California" premieres tonight at 7 p.m. on Channel 6 (KVIE). Among host Frank LaRosa's segments are interviews with Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam and visits to Pacific Grove and Indian Valley in Novato, which allows players to bring their dogs.
Sean Jacklin, the son of Tony Jacklin, advanced through PGA Tour prequalifying at Black Horse in Seaside. Jake Johnson (Cameron Park) missed by three shots after going 7 over par on the final nine holes of the 54-hole event. Jon Daniel (West Sacramento) also did not advance.
Karen Garcia (Cool) and Lynne Cowan (Davis) each shot a 4-over 76 at North Ridge to qualify for the U.S. Women's Mid Amateur next month in San Antonio.
Tim Hovancsek, a longtime area teaching professional and former Sierra College men's golf coach, has been named men's golf coach at William Jessup.