For 22-year-old Cameron Champ, his new golf life begins this week at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, his first event as a professional.
Champ, who was exempted into second-stage qualifying for the Web.com Tour based on his T32 finish in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills last June, will forgo his remaining semester-plus of eligibility to compete for Texas A&M. Until his U.S. Open performance, Champ – one of the longest hitters in amateur golf – hadn’t seriously considered turning pro before his college career was complete.
That changed when Champ made himself a factor at Erin Hills with his 337-yard average driving distance and his overall solid play. Champ advanced through the Web.com Tour Q-School’s second stage last week, and after playing in Mexico this week he will play the final stage of Q-School next month, trying to lock down full status on that tour.
This will be Champ’s third PGA Tour start. He missed the cut in the Safeway Open last month.
“Coming into this week, it’s just a big sigh of relief almost,” said Champ, who hails from the Sacramento, Calif., area and was a member of the winning U.S. Walker Cup team in September. “I kind of know what I’m expecting inside my personal self and obviously on the course. I’m just very excited to be here and grateful for the opportunity.”
Champ said he’s found himself playing his best in his two Tour starts when he settled into a natural rhythm on the course and didn’t get caught up in where he was and what he was doing. He understands there will be a learning curve as he embarks on the next step in his career but Champ has an idea of how he wants to approach each week.
“I learned a lot from the first two pro events I played in,” Champ said. “I just have to get into my own groove and how to prepare right, how many practice rounds, how much to practice, when to practice, when to leave the course, when to get there.
“I think I’ve kind of got it down for myself. Just kind of set a plan to where I feel comfortable and that will give me the best chance to succeed this week.”
As for his renowned length, Champ said he wasn’t able to compare himself with Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson on the range at Erin Hills. He did play a practice round with Rory McIlroy, another of the game’s true bombers, but Champ didn’t say much about his own power. It’s not his style.
“I’m a pretty quiet, humble kid, so I don’t say much,” Champ said, “but whenever I tee off, it kind of says it all.”