Summer 2017

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18 SUMMER 2017 | NCGA.ORG S H A G B A G W ith apologies to champion Brooks Koepka, nobody had a better time at the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills than Sacramento's own Cameron Champ . The Texas A&M senior celebrated his 22nd birthday by shooting a 2-under 70 in the first round, and followed with a 69 to vault onto the first page of the leaderboard at the halfway mark. Before that, Champ played a practice round with major winners Rory McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen, and led the field in driving distance with an average of 337 yards. Champ finished T-32, or one place ahead of former champions Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer and Webb Simpson. Q: Let's begin with your length. How do you hit it so far? CC: I just naturally have done it since I was 15 or 16. As I've gotten older, I've gotten a little longer, but a lot straighter. When I was younger it went everywhere. That didn't work out too well. I just hit it. Rory had to hit a good one just to keep up with one of my bad ones. Q: How much confidence can you take from your performance at the U.S. Open? CC: I played a practice round with Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy on Monday. And just to see their games – guys I've grown up watching play. It gave me a confidence boost knowing that I can hit those same shots. Q: What is your best memory from Erin Hills? CC: I think that first tee shot on the third day. Just teeing off and all the love I got from everyone. It was the first time for me being in the spotlight. Q: Think back to your junior golf days. What are some of the baby steps along the way that helped you prepare for this moment? CC: I grew up playing Whitney Oaks. I walked up the hill about a mile to the course and practiced there every single day. Growing up, I played all the NCGA junior events, places like Spyglass and Poppy Hills. I played so many NCGA events—probably over 100—that it's hard to pick one. But when I was 14, I played the State Fair and was 8-under and in the second-to-last group playing in front of family and friends. That's probably the first time I felt nerves. You can multiply that by 100 to describe how I felt before my first tee shot on Saturday. USGA

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