Sunday's golf: Emotional Cameron Champ hangs on to win Safeway Open
Napa, Calif. — Cameron Champ broke down in tears when it was over.
Playing while his grandfather fights cancer in nearby Sacramento, the 24-year-old Champ won the Safeway Open on Sunday for his second PGA Tour title. He made a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th hole for a one-stroke victory over Adam Hadwin at Silverado Resort.
Champ raised both arms then shared a long embrace with his caddie before breaking into tears as he hugged his father, Jeff, on the green. Champ’s grandfather, Mack, is battling stomach cancer and is in hospice. Mack introduced Champ to golf at a young age.
“For me to do something like this, for me to win, and for him to be able to witness and watch on TV, I know he was probably amped up,” Champ said. “For him to be able to see me make that putt on 18 on the 72nd hole, that will go down as the greatest moment ever in my career.
“It was just kind of meant to be. Everything fell into place.”
Champ’s second victory in 33 events didn’t come without its moments, especially down the stretch.
Three strokes ahead entering the round, Champ had five birdies and overcame a bogey on No. 17 — “Adrenaline,” Champ said — to hold off Hadwin. Champ closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 17-under 271.
Afterward, Champ was handed a cell phone by his father. On the other end was Mack.
“With everything going on with my family, with my grandpa, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to play,” Champ said. “I showed up Thursday and teed it up with no practice round, nothing. The whole week there was nothing else on my mind. It just kind of blurred everything else.”
Hadwin birdied the final three holes for a 67 to tie Champ at 16 under, then watched from nearby as Champ nearly chipped in for eagle on 18 before making the short birdie putt.
“At least I made him think about it a little bit,” Hadwin said. “I knew I had to do something special. Put a little pressure on him and made him make birdie for it.”
Champ missed every fairway on the front nine but made several big second shots to stay in front. None was more impressive than after he drove into the far left rough on the par-5 fifth, pitched up and over a tall tree and onto the green 17 feet away and two-putted for birdie.
Champ bogeyed No. 8, but rebounded with a birdie on No. 9. He had a short chip-in for par on No. 11 after chunking his approach shot.
“I just kept grinding,” said Champ, who had 21 birdies in the four rounds. “I got some key up-and-downs. The chip-in on 11 was huge, and the up-and-down on 15 just kind of kept my round going.”
Champ’s only other tour victory came last October in Mississippi at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He hadn’t finished higher than sixth since, missing the cut 12 times.
Brian Stuard (Jackson) followed his three straight 70s with a 69 and finished tied for 17th.
Marc Leishman (65) was third at 14 under. Justin Thomas (69), Charles Howell III (68) and Zac Blair (68) were 13 under.
Mi Jung Hur played bogey-free with the lead at Indianapolis and never gave anyone a chance, closing with a 4-under 68 for a four-shot victory at the Indy Women in Tech Championship for her second LPGA Tour victory this year.
Hur opened with a 63 and went wire-to-wire for the first time in her career. The 29-year-old South Korean had 26 birdies for the week at Brickyard Crossing.
Nanna Koerstz Madsen birdied her last two holes for a 67 to finish alone in second, moving her from No. 70 to No. 44 in the Race to the CME Globe. Marina Alex finished third. She started two shots out of the lead but didn’t make birdie until the 16th hole.
Victor Perez claimed his first European Tour title in his 29th appearance, closing with a 2-under 70 to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by one shot at St. Andrew's, England.
Perez, a 27-year-old rookie on the tour, narrowly missed his 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. Par was good enough to see him become the first French winner of this tournament at 22-under 266.
Perez, who is based in Scotland and ranked No. 184, had previous rounds of 64-68-64. He graduated from the Challenge Tour last year.
Matthew Southgate of England closed with a 71 to finish alone in second.
Tommy Fleetwood shot 64 to tie for fifth, while Rory McIlroy had to settle for a 70 and tied for 26th.
Kirk Triplett won the Pure Insurance Championship for the third time Sunday at Pebble Beach, California, beating Billy Andrade with an 8-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff.
The 57-year-old Triplett also won the PGA Tour Champions event in 2012 and 2013. He has eight senior victories, also winning a playoff in March in the Hoag Classic down the coast in Newport Beach.
Playing four groups ahead of Andrade, Triplett birdied the 18th in regulation for a 5-under 67 and 9-under 206 total. Andrade also closed with a birdie, holing a 7-footer after hitting his second shot through the green.
The 55-year-old Andrade missed a 20-foot birdie try before Triplett holed the winning putt in the event that pairs tour players with juniors from The First Tee programs around the country.
Steve Flesch, the leader going into the final round, shot 41 on the back nine for a 75.
Tom Gillis (Lake Orion) finished two shots back in fourth.