Cameron Champ staring down ‘mind-blowing’ win at emotional Safeway Open

September 29, 2019

Cameron Champ has been playing this week’s Safeway Open with a heavy heart. But he’s also been playing tremendously well.

Champ announced on Friday that he’s playing this week with his grandfather on his mind. Mack Champ, a 78-year-old Air Force veteran who taught Champ the game, has Stage Four stomach cancer and has entered hospice care.

Mack’s grandson Cameron, meanwhile, has taken the Safeway Open by storm. He began the week commuting from his hometown of Sacramento to spend time with his grandfather; he’ll enter Sunday with a three-shot lead. Champ made no effort to downplay just what the win would mean.

“Oh, it would be huge. I mean, especially, like I said, with kind of the struggles we’re going through right now, it would be mind-blowing, honestly,” Champ said. “So I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing. Whether I shoot 80 tomorrow or whether I shoot 65, I really don’t care. I’m just going to focus on, you know, putting my best round together and whatever that’s going to be tomorrow, it’s going to be.”

Just under a year since his maiden victory, Champ’s rounds of 67-68-67 have him at 14 under par, three shots clear of of the field.

Here’s everything else you need to know from Saturday’s third round at the Safeway Open.

LEADERS STUMBLE

Bryson DeChambeau began the day with a two-shot lead over Nick Watney, his playing partner in the final pairing. But both players struggled. On a course yielding low scores to the day’s hottest players, Watney birdied four of his last seven holes just to salvage a round of even-par 72. He sits T5.

DeChambeau’s day was even more trying. The 36-hole leader made two bogeys and a double in a birdie-free round of 76 that ended with a bizarre ruling saga on the day’s final hole. His four-over round sent him all the way back to eight under and in a share of 15th place.

THE CONTENDERS

Remember Sebastian Munoz? Y’know, the guy ranked No. 179 in the world who won last week’s Sanderson Farms? He’s back in the mix in a share of second place at 11 under par, three shots back of Champ. That puts him in the mix for a third consecutive top-10 finish and another jump up the game’s rankings.

Munoz is joined at 11 under by a pair of Canadians, Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor. Four players sit a shot further back: Wunderkind Collin Morikawa, a revitalized Justin Thomas, the relentless Chez Reavie and Watney. Six players sit at nine under, one great round from contention.

SHOT OF THE DAY

Ah yes, the shot du jour. Today’s edition belongs to Adam Scott, who you’ll remember was the 18-hole leader at this week’s event. Scott faced down an approach shot from 68 yards at the par-4 17th — and slam-dunked it in the hole for an eagle 2.

The deuce was a part of Scott’s back-nine four-under 32. The only bad news? He shot 41 on the front and sits T36.