Why three-time Tour winner Cameron Champ's biggest victory has been off the course

NAPA, Calif. – My goosebumps had goosebumps as I watched Cameron Champ win the 2019 Safeway Open (now known as the Fortinet Championship) at the Silverado Resort & Spa’s North Course. Champ, who grew up 60 miles away in Sacramento, played with a heavy heart as his Grandpa, Mack Champ, watched from the family home. “Pops,” as Cameron affectionately called him, had entered hospice for Stage IV stomach cancer, and died shortly thereafter.

© Provided by Golfweek Safeway Open Cameron Champ

It was Mack who bought Cam and his sister Madison their first sets of plastic clubs. (Madison is on the autism spectrum, which is why Cameron typically wears a baby-blue shirt on Sunday, the color of autism awareness.) Cameron was 2 ½ at the time he first wrapped his hands around a club, and it wasn’t long before Mack started taking his grandson to Foothill Golf Course in Sacramento. For $200 a year, Cameron could play as much golf as he wanted.

“After school we would go play as many holes as we could,” he recalled. “I still remember the push carts they had to the little snack shack they had.”

Made a quick stop by Foothill Golf Course before heading out to Napa! Excited for the @CameronChampFDN Pro-Am & Golf Classic at the @FortinetChamp tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/ZoFSqse21l

— Cameron Champ (@Cameron__Champ) September 13, 2021

Two years ago, I was standing by the 18th green at the Safeway Open next to Champ’s father, Jeff, who held his cell phone in his left hand so Pops could hear the applause rain down from the crowd as Cameron wrapped up his second of now three PGA Tour titles. Jeff gritted his teeth, tightened every muscle in his body and attempted, by sheer will, to force the tears back into their ducts. But it was already too late. His long embrace on the green with his son reminded me of Tiger Woods hugging caddie Steve Williams and losing it on his shoulder at the British Open after Woods’s father had passed away in 2006. Just as on that day, there weren’t many dry eyes among those who witnessed this scene.

Champ is living to make Grandpa Mack proud and that means being a winner in his community. At 24, he launched his own foundation to give back and chose Foothill Golf Course, a par-3 course measuring 1,203 yards, as his initial project to give young people a safe haven to play and learn.

“We’ve been thinking about this since I was a kid,” Cameron told me at the time.

The foundation has a simple goal: to establish and promote youth mentorship and golf programs that foster an environment for academic achievement and healthy living for children from underserved and disadvantaged communities.

“We believe sport speaks to youth in a language they understand and when coupled with access to a safe and nurturing place to ‘play,’ sport can be a tool for positive change,” the Foundation’s boiler plate reads. “We believe in the power of education — that access to learning beyond-the-classroom (K-12) and access to college will unlock the potential in every child and significantly improve the odds of lifelong success. We believe in the power of mentoring – providing access to mentors not only helps the children today but creates learned behaviors that will enable children to make the world a better place. When this all comes together, we will fuel the dreams of the children we touch. Come walk with us!”

It’s a powerful message and one that got a huge lift on Monday when the Fortinet Championship, the inaugural event of the 2021-22 season and a new Tour partner, stepped up on Monday to support Champ with his family’s vision – it’s truly a family affair at the Cameron Champ Foundation – with The Walk with Us Cameron Champ Foundation Pro-Am, benefiting the Foundation in support of programs for underserved and underrepresented children in the Bay Area.

Amazing day yesterday at the @CameronChampFDN Pro-Am & Golf Classic! We are incredibly grateful for the @FortinetChamp giving us the opportunity to host this event as the Official Monday Pro-Am this year out at @SilveradoResort pic.twitter.com/lQDwT2pnnx

— Cameron Champ (@Cameron__Champ) September 14, 2021

“It’s kind of like a dream,” Champ said. “It’s something that again we’re going to keep pushing as hard as we can in order for that dream to become a reality.”

Champ, who got his first taste of playing at Silverado in a junior all-stars competition and had Pops on the bag when he played The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course, also created the Mack Champ Invitational, a junior golf tournament, in Houston. He knows he’s stood on many shoulders and accepted many helping hands to get to where he is and he wants to pay it forward.

Since acquiring the management contract at Foothill in June 2019, he has set out to make it a place where children can learn not only to play golf but also get a healthy snack, help with their homework and just be kids. COVID-19 delayed some of the improvement measures they outlined, but he said, “everything is going in the proper directions that we want it to.”

“What Cameron and his dad are going to do is create opportunities,” Mack told Golf.com a year before he died. “There are kids in gangs, kids with no hope, and we want to try to get them into golf. Cameron knows if people didn’t give to him, he wouldn’t be where he is.”

That’s why he called yesterday’s fundraiser, “a huge steppingstone for us.”

“We’re trying to make a difference in as many ways as we can,” he added. “Obviously I’m only one person, my family’s only one family, my board is only one board, so we can only do as much as we can, but with the resources and with the people we have that are in support of us, we’re going to do everything we possibly can to help the kids, especially in my hometown.”

It is a victory that trumps all the trophies that have begun to pile up at home and likely all of the ones still to come.

MORE:

Fortinet Championship tee times, TV info for Thursday’s first round

Only a 1970s recreation restriction can save a Florida course from becoming a housing development

Brooks Koepka on Tiger Woods: ‘I’m going to catch him on majors. I believe that.’

Stewart Cink has a pretty legit reason why he’s not defending his title this week at the Fortinet Championship

Norm Macdonald, who died on Tuesday, was a huge golf fan and avid follower of Tiger Woods

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Matches To Make After UFC Vegas 37

UFC Vegas 37 went down last night (Sat., Sept. 18, 2021) from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada which saw Anthony Smith defeat Ryan Spann via first round submission ... Read more »

Man Utd defender Phil Jones hits back at online hate: 'I'm enjoying my life... the keyboard warriors will still be in their boxers'

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has hit back at the hateful messages he has received online, declaring he is “enjoying life” while the “keyboard warriors will still be sitting in their ... Read more »

Kelenic HR, 2 doubles lead Mariners over Royals 7-1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rookie Jarred Kelenic homered, doubled twice and wrapped up his impressive series, leading the Seattle Mariners over the Kansas City Royals 7-1 on Sunday. © ... Read more »

Podkolzin already at ease in Vancouver, ‘hungry' to get started with Canucks

VANCOUVER – Friday wasn’t the first time an interpreter in Vancouver was involved in a conversation with Vasily Podkolzin. It was just the first time the interpreter was for him. ... Read more »

Hughie Fury: Evander Holyfield comeback ‘a circus act'

Hughie Fury was left deeply unimpressed by Evander Holyfield’s fight with Vitor Belfort last week. The 27-year-old cousin of WBC champion Tyson Fury is set for his first fight of ... Read more »

Danni Wyatt sets about finding new niche in style

© Getty Images Danni Wyatt drives down the ground during her crucial half-century © Getty Images In her 200th game for England, Danni Wyatt set about finding her new niche ... Read more »

SRCC, Vedantu to hold National Economics Olympiad

© Provided by The Financial Express Each question accounts for one mark and there will be no negative marking in this round. The Economics Society, Shri Ram College of Commerce ... Read more »

MLB playoff bracket and Wild Card update for September 19

© Provided by Fansided If the MLB season ended on Sept. 19, 2021, the playoff field would be decided by season-changing wins and losses on Sunday. The Wild Card standings are ... Read more »

Mookie Betts trades bat for T.J. Friedl's first career home run like a class act

© Provided by Fansided Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts traded his bat to a fan to get Cincinnati Reds’ T.J. Friedl’s first home run ball back. Whenever fans head to ... Read more »

Tatis botches popup, Cards beat Padres 8-7, win 8th straight

ST. LOUIS (AP) — San Diego center fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. dropped Nolan Arenado’s bases-loaded popup and heaved the ball home, leading to a five-run first inning, and the St. ... Read more »

Volleyball players Italy European champion after victory over Slovenia

The Italian volleyball men have won the European title for the seventh time. In the final against Slovenia, they were long behind the times, but made the difference in time: ... Read more »

Eagles' Brandon Graham injured vs. 49ers, is done for the season; Brandon Brooks also hurt

PHILADELPHIA – Two key veteran Eagles players suffered injuries in the first half Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers when right guard Brandon Brooks and defensive end Brandon Graham left ... Read more »

LEADING OFF: Ohtani returns to mound, Jays' Berríos vs Twins

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Sunday: © Provided by The Canadian Press ___ GO-TANI Shohei Ohtani is set to pitch for the Angels at home against ... Read more »

QBs Tagovailoa, Wentz, Dalton, Taylor leave with injuries

Tua Tagovailoa was forced out by a rib injury. Carson Wentz hurt his right ankle. Andy Dalton had a knee issue, and Tyrod Taylor exited with a hamstring injury. It ... Read more »

Tennis-Schwartzman bounces back to seal Argentina's place in Davis Cup qualifiers

(Reuters) – Diego Schwartzman shrugged off a surprise defeat in his opening match to ease Argentina into the 2022 Davis Cup qualifiers on Sunday, sealing the winning point against Belarus. ... Read more »

Abreu, White Sox closer to AL Central title, beat Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — José Abreu matched the major league RBI lead, Yasmani Grandal homered for the second game in a row and the Chicago White Sox moved closer to ... Read more »

Dutch baseball team European champion for the fourth time in a row

The Dutch baseball team has won the European title for the 24th time in Italy. The team of national coach Evert-Jan ‘t Hoen defeated Israel in the final 9-4. For ... Read more »

Baseball men frolic with Israel, show resilience and are European champions again

The Dutch baseball players have become European champions for the 24th time and for the fourth time in a row. The team of national coach Evert-Jan ‘t Hoen turned a ... Read more »

Gabby Petito's body believed to have been found in Grand Teton National Park, FBI says

Authorities have discovered the remains of a body they believe to be Gabby Petito, 22, a blogger whose mysterious disappearance has fueled national intrigue and a cross-country effort to solve ... Read more »

No solo James Bond: todo sobre Daniel Craig en Knives Out 2

© Proporcionado por Spoiler La carrera de Daniel Craig ha sido atravesada por la saga de James Bond: desde 2006, el actor británico ha interpretado al espía que acumula más ... Read more »

Canada's Katie Vincent wins first career world canoe sprint title

Canadian sprint canoeist Katie Vincent captured world championship gold Sunday in the women’s C1 200 metres. © Provided by The Gazette Second place Spain’s Antia Jacome, left, first place Canada’s ... Read more »

Przybylko has 2 goals in Union's 3-1 win over Orlando City

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Kacper Przybylko had two goals and an assist to help the Philadelphia Union beat Orlando City 3-1 on Sunday. Jamiro Monteiro played a one-touch pass to ... Read more »

Sports short: Lesley Pattinama-Kerkhove loses doubles final in Slovenia

Keep up to date with all the sports news. We have set up special pages on our website for football, tennis, skating, motorsport, cycling and darts news, on which the ... Read more »

Dolphins waiting to see severity of Tagovailoa's rib injury

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa never saw it coming. © Provided by The Canadian Press And now, the Miami Dolphins aren’t sure when they’ll see their starting quarterback ... Read more »

Soto's 454-foot homer helps Nationals beat Rockies 3-0

WASHINGTON (AP) — Juan Soto homered to back Paolo Espino, and the Washington Nationals beat Colorado 3-0 Sunday to end the Rockies’ rare five-game road winning streak. © Provided by ... Read more »

Dallas Cowboys nearly pull off miracle at end of first half against Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Nantz and Tony Romo on the CBS call were discussing the fact this would be the first halftime score of 14-11 in NFL history. © Provided by Touchdown Wire ... Read more »

Przybylko scores twice, Union beats Orlando City 3-1

CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Kacper Przybylko had two goals and an assist to help the Philadelphia Union beat Orlando City 3-1 on Sunday. Jamiro Monteiro played a one-touch pass to ... Read more »

Hurts falls short in clutch in Eagles' 17-11 loss to 49ers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Hurts dropped back in his own end zone, hit Quez Watkins in stride down the sideline and the first full house in Philadelphia in two years ... Read more »

Cardinals' Prater boots 62-yard field goal against Vikings

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Matt Prater still has plenty of leg left at 37. The Arizona kicker broke the franchise record with a 62-yard field goal to end the first ... Read more »

Carson Wentz's ankle injury: What to know as Colts QB is hurt in loss to Rams

INDIANAPOLIS — Carson Wentz knew the moment he hit the turf. Wentz had been trying to escape the pocket when Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald grabbed his lower half and ... Read more »

Wilson doesn't blame booing Jets fans after 4 INTs vs. Pats

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Zach Wilson’s first pass ended up in the other team’s hands. So did his second. By the time it was all over — a nightmarish ... Read more »

The Latest: Prater kicks Cardinals-record 62-yard field goal

The Latest on Week 2 in the NFL (all times EDT): © Provided by The Canadian Press ___ 5:55 p.m. Arizona Cardinals kicker Matt Prater has capped a wild first ... Read more »

AL wild-card leading Red Sox rally past O's 8-6

BOSTON (AP) — Kiké Hernández’s game-tying RBI single caromed off the second-base bag and into shallow center field, sparking a three-run, seventh-inning rally that carried the AL wild-card leading Boston ... Read more »

Vinícius Júnior, Benzema lead Madrid to 2-1 win at Valencia

MADRID (AP) — Vinícius Junior and Karim Benzema added to their impressive starts to the season by scoring late goals in Real Madrid’s 2-1 win against Valencia in the Spanish ... Read more »

Manchester United transfer news: Mino Raiola talks up Juventus return for Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba’s agent has hinted that the Frenchman could return to Juventus next summer. © Provided by FourFourTwo Paul Pogba Pogba’s Manchester United contract expires at the end of the ... Read more »

Graphic: Clark's teeth were destroyed at UFC Vegas 37

Devin Clark is going to need a dentist following his unanimous decision loss to Ion Cutelaba at UFC Vegas 37 on Saturday night. © Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC Devin ... Read more »

Real Madrid only settles with Valencia in the final phase and regains the lead

Real Madrid have won the away match against Valencia in spectacular fashion. The club from the capital seemed to be facing a defeat for a long time, but thanks to ... Read more »

Canadian men's rugby sevens team downs Spain 33-19

VANCOUVER — The Canadian men’s rugby sevens team avoided elimination from a World Sevens Series tournament in Vancouver with a 33-19 win Sunday over Spain. © Provided by The Canadian ... Read more »

MATCHDAY: Barcelona tries to rebound from big loss to Bayern

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Monday: SPAIN Barcelona hosts winless Granada in the Spanish league and hopes to rebound from the demoralizing 3-0 home loss to ... Read more »

Oilers defenceman Dmitri Samorukov out six weeks with broken jaw

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Dmitri Samorukov is expected to be out six weeks after suffering a broken jaw in a rookie game against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, the team announced ... Read more »