Cameron Champ tee’s off his 2022 Charity Pro-Am event at Silverado C.C. benefiting the Cameron Champ Foundation, leading up to his season debut at the Fortinet Tournament on the PGA Tour
NAPA, CA (story by: Marty James) – Cameron Champ was feeling good about a lot of things as he made his way out to the driving range at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa on Monday morning.
He has recovered from what he called a “freak accident,” when he hurt his left wrist at his home last year.
“I’m 100 percent,” said Champ, who is from Sacramento. “It’s the best shape I’ve been in mentally, and mentally is the main thing,” he added. “For me, I’m just in a much better place.”
Champ also likes his surroundings this week – playing the par-72, 7,123-yard North Course at Silverado, the host of the PGA Tour’s 2022-2023 season-opening event, the Fortinet Championship this week. The FedEx Cup regular season event, which has an $8 million purse, is Sept. 15-18 at Silverado and has a field of 156 players.
Champ is a former winner at Silverado, having captured the Safeway Open here in 2019, as he shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round to secure the victory by a one-stroke margin. He birdied the 18th hole on Sunday and completed the event at 17-under 271. “It’s nice to be back home. This is kind of like my home event,” said Champ. “Having those memories is nice, and then also just having everybody here. Pretty much anybody I knew that was close to me was here. It was just an awesome ending to the week.”
“This place always has a little more value to me and just a sense that I love being here. It doesn’t add extra pressure. It’s just the comfortability. I love the course. This is what I’ve grown up on, playing these types of courses and environment.” “So again, just very happy and excited to get going.” The week got underway on Monday with Champ, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, hosting the Cameron Champ Foundation Pro-Am on the North Course. The event drew 28 teams, a field of 112 players. It was sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s and partly cloudy conditions, at the start of the pro-am.
The mission of the Cameron Champ Foundation, according to its website, cameronchampfoundation.org, “is committed to unlocking the potential in and transforming the lives of youth from underserved and underrepresented communities.” Foothill Golf Course, located in Citrus Heights, is managed by the Champ family, “with the intention of making golf accessible to the community and especially its young people,” according to cameronchampfoundation.org.
On its website, the Foundation announced it is working to establish a program that will provide local students with tutoring, STEM instruction, golf instruction, nutritional assistance and mentoring.
“Through golf, children learn the value of integrity, sportsmanship and hard work, and they develop physical and social skills that will pay dividends for a lifetime,” the Foundation points out on its website.
Glenn Weckerlin, chairman of the Cameron Champ Foundation who is with Chevron, thanked Fortinet for its support of the Monday pro-am. Fortinet, now in its second year as the tournament title sponsor, is a global leader in broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions, and is based in the Silicon Valley.
“This is going to be a great day. Obviously, we can’t say enough about the Fortinet team for allowing us to actually have this Monday event,” said Weckerlin. “That’s a big commitment of theirs to give us the Monday pro-am, and then allow us to sell that, to raise money for the Foundation. So very excited.”
Cameron Champ is very proud to be able to give back to his hometown of Sacramento, where he took up golf at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex and learned to play, with help from his grandfather, Mack Ray Champ.
“Obviously for the Tour to partner and Fortinet to partner, it just makes it that much bigger. It just creates a much bigger impact,” said Champ, who attended Heritage Peak Charter School in Sacramento and was a member of First Tee – Greater Sacramento. “I’m very grateful for that and just excited for the week.
“As I keep going in my golf career, and other things off the course, it will only allow me to build it even more, and make it bigger and bigger. Over that time, you start meeting more people that want to be a part of it, that want to help. It just keeps building and building and building. We’re just taking it step by step, doing the right things to start, and just not trying to get ahead of ourselves.”
The pro-am will raise funds for the Foundation in support of programs for underserved and underrepresented children, the organization said on its website, cameronchampfoundation.org.
“If you look at what we’re doing, from a trajectory standpoint, we’re trending in the right direction,” said Weckerlin. “We’re doing more in Sacramento. We’re doing more in Houston, where Cameron’s home is now.”
In August, the Cameron Champ Foundation announced its first group of scholarship winners.
“It’s not just about golf,” said Weckerlin. “We’re doing clinics and teaching kids, but we’re also helping the kids that do play golf, get an education if they want to continue with their education. So, we’re kind of hitting our stride on the Foundation side of things.”
Starting the new season at Silverado in Napa Champ had two Top-10 finishes during the 2021-22 season. This included finishing in a tie for 10th at the Master’s Tournament. He tied for sixth at the Mexico Open at Vidanta. He tied for 16th at the 3M Open and tied for 20th at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
“As players go through their career, they’ve got some ups and downs. Sometimes they’re playing well and sometimes they go on a run. Cameron had a great finish. He just got a slow start last year, and ended up finishing really strong,” said Weckerlin. “But if you were looking at trend lines, he was trending in the right way.
“There’s something about Silverado and being here and it being local for him, that gets a little glimmer in his eye, that I think he has coming to the course. I think he feels like he could win any day, anytime here at Silverado. I’m hopeful that he’ll get off to a good start.”
Champ joined the PGA Tour in 2019. He also won the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2018 and the 3M Open in 2021.
Champ said last year was probably the most difficult year for him, on and off the course, due to the injury to his wrist. He said it was very close to being a career-ending injury. He fractured his wrist in multiple places. He did not have to have surgery. “I just kind of fell in a massive hole that took me a while to get out of. That’s just life. I learned a lot from it,” he said. “I also fractured it on my joint. If I had any more force, my joint would have just blown up.” “It just took a while to heal. From January until probably March, April, I had to play through a lot of pain. I just wanted to play. I had a lot of expectations, which I should have, but that’s just the competitiveness in me.” Champ suffered the injury last October, in what he called a “freak accident” at his home, as he fell on his wrist. “I’ve been able to come through it and come out of it,” he said.
Champ said he is now excited to start the new season, with the first round on Thursday, Sept. 15.
“I was in a rough patch there for quite a while, that I had to get myself out of,” he said. I’m just ready to go. I’m more driven than I’ve ever been. I think I’m just in a much better place. I’m just happy to be healthy and to get out here and just play.” There is a connection that Champ has to the Silverado layout, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and later remodeled by Johnny Miller, a World Golf Hall of Fame member in 2011. “I’m comfortable. I love it here. I love the course. I love the environment. And now it’s just time to play and just see what happens.“This feels like home,” he said.
There is a cut to the low 65 players plus ties following Friday’s second round.
The winner receives 500 FedExCup points.
Tuesday, Sept. 13 is a practice round, which is closed to the public.
Wednesday, Sept. 14 is the official pro-am. It’s closed to the public.
Daily tickets, starting at $45, are now on sale.
Golf Channel will televise all four rounds of the tournament.
To purchase tickets, or to obtain more information, go to www.fortinetchampionship.com.
- Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016. firstname.lastname@example.org