In just his seventh PGA Tour start as a professional and ninth overall, Cameron Champ is a PGA Tour champion.
The long-hitting American pulled away from Canadian Corey Conners in the final holes of the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship to lock up his maiden PGA Tour victory. Champ’s 4-under 68 on Sunday at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Miss. was good enough for a win of the same margin on 21-under 267.
With the win, Champ picked up 300 FedEx Cup points, entries into the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January 2019, The Players Championship in March 2019 and the PGA Championship in May 2019. Champ also took the $792,000 winner’s share of the $4.4 million purse.
How Champ became the champ
Champ and Conners were tied at 17 under down the stretch on Sunday, the result of Champ coming out flat in 1-over 37 on the front nine. Champ had to replace his gamer Ping G400 Max driver when he learned it cracked before the final round on the driving range. Champ had a replacement driver in hand, so he was forced to make the adjustment before the round.
The 23-year-old Champ broke away from Conners with four consecutive birdies from Nos. 13-16, then making a birdie on the final hole to lock up the win. Conners was unable to apply pressure on a short eagle putt on the 15th hole, leaving him further unable to make up ground.
“The front side, there were some nerves, but on the back side I brought it all together and finished strong. It was awesome,” Champ said.
Champ became the first winner in this young PGA Tour season to have at least a share of the lead after every round.
The rookie champion becomes the fifth-consecutive Sanderson Farms winner to make this tournament their first win: Ryan Armour (2017), Cody Gribble (2016), Peter Malnati (2015), Nick Taylor (2014).
The best of the rest
For Conners, this was his best result in 40 PGA Tour starts. He made 28 PGA Tour starts last season, finishing 130th in FedEx Cup points.
Carlos Ortiz and Sam Burns finished tied for third at 15-under total, earning some critical early season FedEx Cup points in their quest to retain PGA Tour status.
Roberto Castro and Anders Albertson, coming off stints on the Web.com Tour, finished tied for fifth on 14 under.
Seven players finished tied for seventh place on 13 under, including Denny McCarthy, sponsor invite DJ Trahan, Martin Laird, Adam Schenk, Seth Reeves, University of Illinois product and first-year pro Dylan Meyer, as well Shawn Stefani.
With his T-7 finish, Meyer, who doesn’t have PGA Tour status, will get into next week’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.
The PGA Tour heads to Sin City for the first of three-consecutive full-field events, including the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, then Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico and the RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort in Georgia, which will end the fall portion of the wrap-around schedule.