Winning on the PGA Tour is difficult enough, but doing so with your backup driver — especially when you’re Cameron Champ, the long-driving wunderkid — is even harder.
The 23-year-old Texas A&M product had to overcome more than just the nerves and expectations that accompany holding a four-shot 54-hole lead; he needed to race to the parking lot mere minutes before his final round tee time because he cracked the head of his driver during his warm-up session.
Cameron Champ has the 4-shot lead @Sanderson_Champ
As he was warming up, his driver head broke. It was 30 minutes before he teed off.
Fortunately he had a spare driver head in his car and got in a few swings with it.
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— Chantel McCabe (@ChantelMcCabeGC) October 28, 2018
This is the driver of Cameron Champ 20 minutes before his final round tee time with a 4 shot lead. He had a backup in the car, and was able to hit a few on the range. pic.twitter.com/QfnvStHFqW
— Justin Leonard (@jlmountainman) October 28, 2018
Champ retrieved his backup driver head from his car got a few cuts in with it on the range before heading to the first tee.
“I was on the range and actually had my headphones in at the time. I hit the first drive and kind of fell out of the air. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of weird,'” Champ said. “(It) probably cracked there, but didn’t crack on the top yet. Then I hit another one and it just split straight in half.
“It was very unexpected. Then my backup is actually my old (driver head) that I have that week. I didn’t bring a new new head. It was a (head) one from my previous drivers. I know the weighting was just a little bit off, so just tried to hit as many balls as I could on the range with it just to get used to it a little bit.
“I tried to manage it. Obviously, I knew mostly today was probably mixed with nerves and adrenaline and just trying to find my tempo and my swing and whatnot.”
And manage it, he did. After a shaky 1-over par front nine, Champ’s lead disappeared, but he was able to finish strongly, birdieing five of his last six holes to win by the same four-shot margin he had at the beginning of the day.
Despite only hitting five fairways on Sunday, Champ found 11 greens in regulation en route to a final round 4-under par 68 to capture his first PGA Tour victory.