PGA Tour

US rookie Champ confident entering PGA's 2018 finale

Cameron Champ (AP)
Cameron Champ (AP)

Washington - Cameron Champ was just hoping to make the cut in his first few events as a member of the PGA Tour. Instead, he lived up to his name.

Now the 23-year-old American with the powerhouse drives carries confidence from his first PGA victory into the RSM Classic, the year's final PGA Tour tournament starting on Thursday at Sea Island, Georgia.

Champ won last month's Sanderson Farms Championship, firing a 21-under-par 267 to take the title at Jackson, Mississippi, and placed 10th at last week's Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

The early 2019 PGA Rookie of the Year front-runner has been in tournament top-10s after nine of his past 12 rounds, four of them 65s or lower, and leads the young season in driving distance with 335.2 yards.

"I've just been playing with confidence, really," Champ said.

The RSM Classic is played on the same seaside layout where Champ played his college conference championship while attending Texas A&M, taking fifth place last year. Former college players who have tested the layout have been first or second in five of the eight prior editions of the event.

Champ, averaging just under six birdies a round through four events in the new campaign that started last month, also needs only two birdies to lead the Birdies Fore Love race, which donates $300 000 to the favourite charity of the player with the most birdies and eagles in the 2018 portion of the season.

Champ hopes to give money to after-school programs in his hometown of Sacramento, California.

"Charity and giving back has always been a thing of mine and my family personally," Champ said.

"We didn't come from much, but we always gave back as much as possible."

Defending champion Austin Cook, two-time major winner and Sea Island resident Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson, this year's Players Championship winner, are also likely contenders, all of them Americans.

Simpson was the 2011 runner-up and in the hunt after two rounds last year before withdrawing to be with his father in the final days before he died.

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