The emotions came out in full effect on Sunday when the golfing was all said and done. Cameron Champ raised both arms to celebrate his victory at the Safeway Open before hugging his caddie and then his father. It was Champ’s second PGA Tour title, but far and away his most impactful given the circumstances.
While Champ was victorious in Napa, Calif., his grandfather, Mack, was in Sacramento, battling stomach cancer and in hospice. Mack introduced Champ to the sport of golf at a young age. And while his grandfather wasn’t there physically, Champ knew he was watching.
“For me to do something like this, for me to win, and for him to be able to witness and watch on TV, I know he was probably amped up,” Champ said. “For him to be able to see me make that putt on 18 on the 72nd hole, that will go down as the greatest moment ever in my career.”
The putt Champ, 24, is referring to was on the final hole in the tournament. Locked in a dead heat with runner-up Adam Hadwin, Champ made a three-foot birdie putt on the Par-5 18th hole for a one-stroke victory.
He bogeyed the previous hole to put himself in a tie with Hadwin but hit a couple of clutch shots to secure the victory for himself and his grandfather. Overall, Champ closed with a three-under 69 on Sunday, finishing the Safeway Open at 17-under 271.
Long Time Coming
Champ’s other victory on the PGA Tour came nearly a full year ago when he won the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi. It has been somewhat of a rocky road since, where he hasn’t finished higher than sixth since winning in Mississippi and has missed the cut 12 times. But a win like this can rejuvenate a golfer and perhaps lead to some more victories.
“It was just kind of meant to be,” said Champ after the win. “Everything fell into place.”
Following Champ and Hadwin, PGA Tour regular Marc Leishman shot a 65 on Sunday to finish in third at 14-under. Justin Thomas, Charles Howell III, and Zac Blair were next up at 13-under. Some other notable golfers to compete in Napa last weekend included Bryson DeChambeau (-10, T13), Adam Scott (-9, T17), and Patrick Cantlay (-6, T40).
One of the biggest stories of the tournament was Tony Romo. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and CBS analyst competed as an amateur, finishing ahead of the cut line with a 70 on Thursday. However, Romo shot a 78 on Friday and was among the dozens who were cut before the weekend. Romo then flew to Chicago to broadcast the Bears-Vikings game on Sunday.
The next tournament on the PGA Tour schedule is the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas. The defending champion DeChambeau is once again competing, as are Cantlay, Scott and Howell III.
Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, and Webb Simpson will all be making their 2019-20 season debuts in Vegas as well. The first round tees off early Thursday morning at TPC Summerlin.