AUGUSTA, Ga. – Cameron Champ can go ahead and solidify his Masters plans for next spring.
Champ birdied his final hole Sunday at Augusta National, sinking a 7-footer to put the finishing touches on a closing 2-under 70, even-par week and a T-10 finish, which earns him an invite back for the 2023 edition.
“It's huge,” Champ said. “Especially this year, it has been just a whirlwind really for me.”
It wasn’t just Champ’s first top-10 finish since he won the 3M Open last July; it was his first top-25 finish since that victory in Minneapolis. Champ missed most of the fall season while recovering from a broken left wrist, which Champ said he injured during an accident at his home the day before he was supposed to leave for the Shriners Open in October.
Champ was ranked 70th in the Official World Golf Ranking at the time, but he was out of action until The American Express in late January and even when he returned, he was fighting through some discomfort and missed four of his next seven cuts, slipping to No. 133 in the world entering this week.
“The wrist was healed, but it had no strength,” Champ explained. “I lost all the muscle in my arm, and I just had to build that back. Now, like I said, the last few tournaments I've had nothing whatsoever. I have full function and movement in it. I haven't lost anything, so it was more so just fighting through the little bit of nerve damage and letting that heal just gradually.”
Champ added that he “got lucky” with the fracture in that it required no surgery. He had surgery scheduled until his final CT scan revealed such a procedure unnecessary.
Now, Champ has grabbed some major momentum.
“My game is going in the right direction,” he said. “Everything I'm dealing with off the course is finally going right, so first and foremost, that's the most important. It's just life, man. I'm learning as I go. Right now, I'm just in a great spot.”
Champ also won’t have to fret about earning that return ticket to Augusta National next spring. He, Corey Conners and Sungjae Im were the three players who didn’t have a spot in next year’s field basically locked up before Sunday. Connors, with his T-6, now has three straight top-10s here.
Two former Masters champions, Danny Willett and Charl Schwartzel could’ve grown that list, but each finished strong to deny a huge group at T-14.
Kevin Na, Matt Fitzpatrick, Min Woo Lee, Harry Higgs, Lee Westwood, Talor Gooch, Tommy Fleetwood and Jason Kokrak were among those who finished a shot out of the top 12. Luckily for those guys, they still have more opportunities to play their way back for the 2023 Masters.
“Is that what it is? You should have told me. I didn't know,” said Willett when informed that his par on No. 18 helped keep the top-12 cutoff at 1 over. “They'll be all right. The guys who finish in the top of this leaderboard are not going to have any trouble getting back in next year.”