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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Cameron Champ to compete in 2018 Genesis Open after receiving Charlie Sifford Memorial exemption

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Photo by Courtesy of Clyde Click

Senior Cameron Champ was one of two amateurs to compete at the 2017 US Open this past summer. He began golfing at the age of two and is well on his way to going professional. 

On Jan. 31, Tiger Woods announced Cameron Champ as the prestigious Charlie Sifford Memorial Exemption for the 2018 Genesis Open. Champ, who turned professional in November after playing his collegiate golf at Texas A&M, will tee it up on Thursday at The Riviera Country Club alongside some of the best players in the world.
According to PGAtour.com, the exemption represents the advancement of diversity in the game of golf. The exemption namesake, Charlie Sifford, was the first African-American player to compete on the PGA Tour.
“It is definitely a huge honor to play in his name this week,” Champ said. “Most people know my story with my grandfather and my upbringing and how we’ve gotten here … [Sifford has] done so much for the game and for African-Americans back in his day. Thinking about it, I might have never played golf if it wasn’t for Mr. Sifford.”
As soon as Champ was born, his grandfather put clubs in his hands. However, unlike his grandson, Champ’s grandfather did not play golf until he was older.
“My grandfather was from Texas and was African-American so he couldn’t play,” Champ said in an earlier interview. “He got into the military and learned to play golf overseas.”
While making the announcement, Woods had high praise for Champ, who was the No. 1 ranked amateur for 2017, saying he was excited to have Champ in the field and he has all the tools to compete at Riviera. Woods also added that Champ’s commitment to exposing the sport to more people is inspiring. The Aggie was appreciative of his words.
“It’s awesome,” Champ said. “Obviously, Tiger Woods is the greatest of my time. I was still young when he was in his prime, but he is still the greatest of my time. To have him say that about me and my family, it’s just a great honor.”
According to Champ, his preparation this week has gone well, and he played this course at the U.S. Amateur last August. He said he expects to play at a high level this week and is prepared to play his own game.
“I’ll just basically stick to my game plan,” Champ said. “No matter if I’m playing good or playing really bad, I’m just going to stick to it. The outcome will be the outcome. There is nothing you can really do about it. If I just stick to my game plan, which I think is pretty good at this course, it sets up very well for me. It’s an all-around good quality course. If you can manage yourself throughout the week, you can really score. That’s what I’m going to try and do.”
Since turning professional halfway through his senior season at A&M, Champ has earned full status on the Web.com Tour and sits at No. 67 on the money list. He has made all three cuts in the start to his professional career, including a top-25 finish at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, which was his first event.
Champ competed as an amateur in the 2017 U.S. Open and has played at several professional events under his belt since then. Champ said he is beginning to feel more comfortable between the ropes and with his weekly routine.
“It’s definitely getting better,” Champ said. “For me, it’s just an adjustment period … I need to figure out my game plans for events. How many days early do I get there, how many practice rounds I do, when I eat and when I go to bed. I think I have adjusted to that, and now it’s about adjusting to the environment, feeling comfortable with my game and who I’m playing against … I think when I am able to harness that fully, I can really succeed.”
Champ still calls College Station his home, where he and his girlfriend each have a semester left to finish their degrees from A&M.
“Whenever I’m not playing golf at tournaments, I’m always in College Station hanging out with the guys, playing golf and catching up with the coaches,” Champ said. “I’m definitely still involved and love College Station.”
With two weeks until his next Web.com Tour event, Champ said he plans to come home next week when the Aggie men’s team return from competition in Hawaii.
Champ is set to tee off at The Riviera Country Club at 1:05 p.m. PT on Thursday, with TV coverage beginning on Golf Channel at 1:00 p.m. CT.

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