This week’s tour winner averaged 391 yards off the tee

July 17, 2018

Watch out, PGA Tour: Cameron Champ is coming. The 23-year-old Texas A&M grad secured his first professional win on Sunday, firing a final-round 68 to claim the tour’s Utah Championship by a single shot.

It was an impressive all-around week for the Sacramento native, whose 61-64-67-68 tallied up to 24 under par and, most importantly, moved him to No. 3 on the tour’s money list, securing his PGA Tour card for next season.

But there’s something that separates the now-aptly-named Champ from other aspiring stars: even on the pound-happy tour, he stands out for the ferocity with which he attacks the golf ball. Champ has a significant lead in average driving distance at 342.7 yards per tee ball, a number which received a bump this week in Farmington, Utah, where Champ averaged a preposterous 390.8 yards. That’s right — averaged.

He did have a little assistance: the event’s host course, Oakridge Country Club, sits just over 4,000 feet elevation, meaning the ball flies farther, particularly in the weekend’s warm, dry conditions. But Champ — who registered multiple drives over 420 yards and averaged 397 during the final round — has earned a reputation for cartoonish distance numbers.

Golf fans may remember Champ’s coming-out party at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, where he led the field in driving distance at 337.3 yards and was low am for much of the tournament before fading with a Sunday 76 that left him tied for 32nd. Champ was a rising senior at Texas A&M then, but now, just over a year later, he is hitting his stride with more than just the long ball. After getting off to a relatively slow start in his rookie season as a pro, Champ turned it on the last couple of months, notching four consecutive top-10 finishes heading into this week. Now, after proving he can handle the pressure — “I’ve never felt it, but I loved it,” he said after the round — he’s taking his $126,000 first-place check to the top tour in the world.

An emotional Champ, an alumnus of Sacramento’s First Tee program, spoke gratefully about the sacrifices his parents had made to help propel him to the tour. “My family, at one point, basically put everything into golf,” he told Golf Channel. “They barely lived off anything.”

Champ, who shares an agent with notorious Utahn bomber Tony Finau, cited some extra joy winning in “Tony’s territory” after the round. Finau is currently second on the PGA Tour in driving distance at 317.2 yards per drive, trailing only Trey Mullinax. Now, it’s official: next season he’ll have another big-swinging fan favorite to contend with.