Golf

‘It’s just amazing’: How Sacramento’s Cameron Champ earned a spot on the PGA Tour

FILE -- Cameron Champ hits on the second hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 18, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.
FILE -- Cameron Champ hits on the second hole during the fourth round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday, June 18, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. AP Photo

Sacramento native Cameron Champ will compete alongside the best golfers in the world next season, and he’ll have a head start over all of them — with his long game, that is.

Champ’s average driving distance of 342.7 yards per ball off the tee would put him in front of current PGA Tour leader Trey Mullinax’s 319.7 average. It’s also longer than that of professional stalwarts Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, according to PGAtour.com.

The 23-year-old Heritage Peak Charter School graduate will join their ranks after he earned his first PGA Tour card. The appropriately named Champ received that honor by winning the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship by a single shot on Sunday.

He finished the tournament 24 under par (61-64-67-68) en route to his first professional win.

“It’s just crazy to think about ... I had a good five, six week stretch and now I’m here,” Champ told PGAtour.com. “It’s just amazing.”

The stretch has included four straight top-10 tournament finishes for the former Texas A&M Aggie, who barely turned pro last year.

Playing in his first U.S. Open last June — which started on his 22nd birthday — Champ finished tied for 32nd, a solid showing for his first professional round.

After the U.S. Open, he shared some advice McIlroy gave him that helped his performance and boosted his confidence.

“He told me on Tour it’s all about hitting it furthest and straightest,” Champ told The Bee at the time.

Champ, who earned himself a first-place check worth $126,000 in the Utah Championship, will have a chance to add to his $261,957 career earnings next season on the PGA Tour.

“This is new for me, pressure wise,” Champ told PGAtour.com. “Never felt it, but I loved it, and I was able to handle myself well enough.”

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