Cameron Champ dedicates victory to ailing grandfather as he earns second PGA Tour title at Safeway Open
Immediately after holing the winning putt at the Safeway Open, Cameron let the emotions take over: He cried as he shared hugs with both his caddie Kurt and father Jeff, who pulled up his phone for Champ to speak to his Grandfather Mack, as he said "This one was for you, Pops."
The 24-year-old called the victory his 'gift' to Mack, who introduced him to the game as a child.
"I think it was just kind of meant to be," Cameron said about his win at Silverado, which is about an hour south of his hometown.
Mack, 78, watched the whole thing on TV from a hospice in Sacramento. Champ only recently found out following the FedEx Cup playoffs that his grandfather was diagnosed with Stage IV stomach cancer, and was undecided whether he would play at all the week after being informed by his family after last week's Sanderson Farms Championship that Mack had entered the hospice.
But Champ decided to tee up after all, and he said that winning this week would forever be 'the greatest moment in my career'.
"That was my last gift to him," Champ said afterwards. "I told myself I’m going to make the Masters, I’m going to figure out a way, play my butt off. If he can hold on until April, that would be awesome.
"Whether I win one more event or 10 or whatever, this will go down as the greatest moment in my career."
His father Jeff, equally emotional, echoed his thoughts.
"For this to happen before these last days that we’re going to have with my father here, it’s the man upstairs," he said. "It’s amazing."
Champ began the final round with a three stroke lead after a bogey-free 67 on Saturday, and got off to the perfect start with an opening birdie.
He followed that with back-to-back gains at the fifth and sixth holes to stretch his lead, and answered his first dropped shot of the day at the eighth by converting a four-foot putt for birdie at the par-five ninth.
Champ chipped him to save par at the 11th to retain momentum and looked to be in control, but Adam Hadwin's birdie-birdie-birdie finish caused for some late drama as he posted the cluhouse target at 16-under.
At the 17th, Champ missed a short par save after messing up his pitch shot from 48 yards, and suddenly found himself tied at the top with one hole to go.
But with Mack watching at home, Champ recovered perfectly. Known as one of the biggest hitters on the PGA Tour, the 24-year-old hit a 369 yard drive town the fairway - the best of anyone all day by 33 yards.
He went on to make his three-foot birdie putt at the par-five to sign for a final round 69, finishing one shot clear of Adam Hadwin on 17-under-par.