NAPA, Calif. – Cameron Champ’s second career PGA Tour victory brought with it his first Masters invite.
When Champ won last year’s Sanderson Farms Championship, he didn’t receive any mail from Augusta, Ga., because the tournament was an opposite-field event played against the WGC-HSBC Champions. The victory put him within reach of a Masters spot via the world rankings, but a slow spring ended those aspirations and he missed the first major this year.
Sunday’s one-shot win at Silverado Resort & Spa came with a heavy heart, with much of Champ’s focus an hour away with his grandfather, Mack, who is in in-home hospice battling terminal stomach cancer. Champ shared that he opted not to play Augusta National until he had earned his way into the exclusive field, and he dedicated the invite to his ailing grandfather.
“I think just knowing that I did it, that was my last gift to him,” Champ said. “I told myself I’m going to make the Masters, I’m going to figure out a way, play my butt off.”
Champ spent the early part of the week commuting an hour each way to the course from his home in Sacramento to maximize the time he could spend with his grandfather, whose condition has prevented him from eating anything other than popsicles for the past three weeks. He learned the game from him at a young age, even having “Pops” caddie for him at age 71 when Champ played in the 2012 Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach as part of the First Tee.
While he’s not optimistic that his grandfather will be able to watch him hit that first shot among the Georgia pines next spring, it was a welcome incentive to receive and celebrate on an emotional day.
“If he can hold on until April, that would be awesome,” Champ said. “Obviously the circumstances are a little different, but I think just him knowing that I made it and I did it will definitely satisfy him.”