Golf

Five things to know about U.S. Open amateur Cameron Champ of Sacramento

Cameron Champ hits from the ninth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Friday, June 16, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.
Cameron Champ hits from the ninth tee during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Friday, June 16, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. AP

Sacramento native Cameron Champ is classified as an amateur in this weekend’s U.S. Open, as he is entering his senior year at Texas A&M.

He sure isn’t playing like one.

After two days at Erin Hills golf course, Champ was 5-under, only two shots off the leaders Paul Casey, Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka.

Here are five things you should know about Cameron Champ:

1. He’s renown for his length off the tee

This certainly shouldn’t be a surprise for those watching the U.S. Open. According to ESPN, Champ averaged 349.4 yards per drive on Thursday and 329.1 yards per drive on Friday. His average of 339.2 was the highest average of all players at the U.S. Open and it was two yards longer than the next player on the list. That means Champ’s average beat out players like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Bubba Watson, who are also known for their length off the tee.

2. He suffered a stress fracture in his back during his freshman campaign

Three years ago, The Bee’s Steve Pajak reported that Champ suffered a stress fracture in his back, just two rounds into his freshman golf season at Texas A&M. Aggies coach J.T. Higgins said the injury is common among younger players since their bodies aren’t developed enough to handle the torque created by their high swing speeds. Even while battling injuries throughout his freshman year, he posted a 74.36 scoring average, according to PGA.com.

3. He holed a 30-foot birdie putt in a playoff to qualify for the US Open

According to The Bee’s Steve Pajak, Champ shot an 8-under-par 63 in the first round of U.S. Open sectional qualifying earlier in June. After struggling in the second round in the afternoon, he missed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole to lock up an Open berth. In the playoff for the sixth and final qualifying spot, Champ had a 30-foot birdie put to get to Erin Hills and drained it.

4. If Champ pulls off the upset, he’d be the first amateur to win a U.S. Open since 1933

Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win the U.S. Open, and that was in 1933, according to ABC News. Legendary Jack Nicklaus came close as a 20-year-old amateur in the 1960 U.S. Open, but Arnold Palmer stormed back with six holes to play to snag the title. Needless to say, if Champ can somehow find himself at the top of the leaderboard by the end of Sunday, it would be almost unprecedented.

5. Las Vegas doesn’t like Champ’s chances

After the second day, Jeff Sherman, manager of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, tweeted out updated odds for the U.S. Open.

Even after Champ’s 3-under par 69, Vegas still didn’t like his chances, listing him at 100/1 odds.

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