Cameron Champ may have one of the best names at the U.S. Open, and Friday, the amateur had one of the best days at the major, too.
On Thursday, Champ’s 22nd birthday, he teed off in a major for the first time in his career. He finished 2-under to tie for 18th in a field of 156, then followed that up with a 3-under performance Friday to move to tied for eighth on the leaderboard heading into the weekend. Not bad for your major debut.
So who is Cameron Champ?
For starters, he’s a rising senior sport management major at Texas A&M. He was born in Sacramento, California and, according to his Texas A&M bio, he’s hit three holes-in-one in his life.
Before he got to College Station though, Champ’s resume was already stacked. Take this, from his bio:
• A two-time Rolex All-American (2012 and 2013)
• Member of 2012 Junior PGA Ryder Cup Team and the 2013 Toyota Junior World Cup Team
• Earned runner-up at both the 2012 PGA Junior Championship and the 2012 Ping Invitational
• Ranked No. 7 nationally (No. 1 in California) by Golfweek, No. 14 nationally (No. 2 in California) by Polo Junior Golf Rankings and No. 4 nationally (No. 1 in California) by Junior Golfscorboard.
Yeah, not bad for a high schooler.
In his freshman season at Texas A&M, after being named a third-team preseason All-American by Golfweek, Champ battled injuries throughout the year, but posted a 74.36 scoring average in 14 rounds of competition. He placed 15th at the Sea Best Invitational, his highest finish of the year.
His sophomore season saw Champ lead the Aggies in scoring with a 72.82 stroke average in 33 rounds, and culminated in an NCAA Championship finish of 85th place.
This past season, Champ earned All-SEC accolades, and was a semifinalist for the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award, thanks to a 71.50 scoring average during 34 rounds of play.
To earn a spot as one of the 14 amateurs participating at Erin Hills this weekend, Champ sunk a birdie putt on a playoff hole against Brandon Wu in the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in California.
And Champ has made sure not to waste the spot. In the two holes where the USGA measured drives on Thursday (the seventh and 17th), the 22-year-old led the field in driving distance with an average of 349.4 yards — 15 yards longer than the runner-up.
Low-amateur Cameron Champ through 36 holes:— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 16, 2017
1st in driving distance (339.20 yards)
57 putts (T27)
(-6) on the back nine pic.twitter.com/tPZV33pgYE
“I was just being aggressive,” Champ told Golfweek. “Probably the best I’ve hit my driver, honestly. … Every hole I’m not holding back. I’m just going to keep hitting it.”
Just two shots out of the lead through 36, Champ still has a lot of history to overcome. The last amateur to win the U.S. Open was John Goodman (not that one) in 1933.
But the 22-year-old is taking in the entire experience at one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world. When Golfweek asked Champ how he felt about his opening-round 70, he smiled.
“Not too bad,” he said.
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