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October 25, 2018

Cameron Champ

Jackson, Mississippi

THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome Cameron Champ to the interview room here at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Cameron, eight birdies, one bogey; 7-under 65. Good at least for the time being for a first-round lead here.

With that said, just a few comments given the various different conditions you were playing in today.

CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, obviously I knew coming into the round it'd be spotty today. Knew we would get some rain. Obviously it was kind of patchy, like you said. I just knew if I just came out and played my game - didn't have to do anything crazy - you know, this course is very scorable. Obviously the conditions made it a little tougher.

But I think I just stuck to my game plan and it worked out.

THE MODERATOR: You are making your second start of the season with Safeway being your first. Feel like you're getting your arms around it out here as a full-fledged member?

CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, definitely. I think the Web really helped me with that, just feeling comfortable. When I first turned pro kind of a wake-up call for me. Too many expectations, pressure on myself, and kind of worried about outside stuff that I shouldn't have.

I think the Web really prepared me for out here, and the last two events it's been good.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, with that, we'll take a few questions.

Q. Great season on the Web; top 25 finish. What kind of momentum has that given, and then you what does this start today give you going forward?
CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, it gave me a lot of momentum just the way I finished the season on the Web. I didn't play too well my first I think it was five or six events, but then kind of got in the groove, got comfortable, and just kind of played freely. Just to see how I did will there.

And Safeway, same thing. Didn't really have my game that week. Kind of a struggle, but I made the cut. Played decent on Saturday then played great on Sunday to have a good finish.

So then coming out here today, like I said, I knew the conditions. I wasn't expecting a 65, you know? I knew I was hitting it well and playing well, but just today kind of just everything fell into place, putts.

I think the up and down on 16 really kept my round going, and then obviously the great birdie on 18.

Q. You're so long off the tee. Were you able to get the wind today where you wanted it?
CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, for the most part. My trajectory is pretty low to begin with. I can hit it high, but today I was just trying to hit the fairways. The rough out here is pretty thick. It sits straight down. You can be 110 yards and not sure how far it's going to go.

Today I hit the drive very well. Hit a lot of fairways. When I missed them, I managed to get my ball on the green or around the green and make my pars.

Q. Have any idea how far the drive was on 18?
THE MODERATOR: 340, I think. Does that sound about right?

CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, not exactly sure, honestly.

Q. It was 80 or 100 yards past everybody else. Where did you start noticing that you could really drive the ball? At what age did you see like the biggest jump?
CAMERON CHAMP: Probably in college. Growing up I hit it far, 15, 16 years old. Then as I got older and grew into my body it progressively got a little longer.

I mean dramatically, I wouldn't say dramatically. It was just small increments as I grew into my body.

Q. You talk about sticking with your game plan. I'm sure the driving is a big part of that. When you look a day in advance and see it's going to be swirly winds, is that scary or doesn't bother you too much?
CAMERON CHAMP: Doesn't bother me too much. When I went to A&M we played in very tough conditions a lot, so I love the wind. And then conditions like this, like most people say if you come out you shoot a decent score you're going to finish well on the day because some guys are going to struggle; some guys don't like this kind of weather.

I took that to my advantage or whatnot, and just like I said, just stuck to my game plan no matter what the conditions were. Obviously I adjusted shots. If it's into the wind I like to hit a little lower driver or whatnot.

Really today I just wanted to hit fairways. I knew if I did that, day could be good.

Q. What's the game plan?
CAMERON CHAMP: I mean, we just have, you know, off the tee not changing if I'm playing bad or whatnot. Obviously driver is the key out here, I think. If I hit driver well out here, like I said, it's a very scorable course. So I just kept hitting it as much as I could. Even if the fairways were tighter, I felt like if I was further up, even in the rough versus hitting a 3-wood being 40 yards back, I would rather be up there. I guess that's the game plan.

Q. Last year on the Web.com what fell into place for you? One month, I think June, July, you were in the top 7 every time you played a tournament. What happened that turned it on for you?
CAMERON CHAMP: Don't know. I think it was more of a confidence thing maybe. Just the way I was hitting it. That was probably the best I've hit the ball in a long time, if not ever.

Just didn't make the small mistakes like did in the beginning of the season missing greens with pitching wedges to 8-irons, which I have a lot into par-4s and whatnot. I think I that's what I noticed the most.

And then I started making putts. I've noticed I've kind of been a streaky putter at times, but I think with my ball striking I gave myself enough chances, so I just got to just let it freely.

Q. Where does the club head speed come from? Obviously generate more than almost anybody.
CAMERON CHAMP: It's just a natural ability in my move. I get this question asked a lot. It's just how I come down into the ball, how I create the swing speed. Doesn't look like I'm really swinging very hard, but just as a kid that's just how I've always been.

If Sean was here, Sean Foley, he would be able to tell you exactly. He knows everything about it. But me, I just think it's a natural ability.

Q. This time last year you were doing second stage. Was that a determining factor for like if you made it through you were going pro, and if you didn't were you still going pro?
CAMERON CHAMP: No. If I didn't make it to Q-School I would've went back to school. That was the plan. With my finish at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills it got me to second stage, so I might as well. If I make it through, I'll turn pro; if not, I'll go back to school and finish out and then do Q-School and whatnot after that.

Q. How does a guy from Sacramento end up being a Texas Aggie?
CAMERON CHAMP: It was just through the recruiting process. I played a tournament in Houston. Kind of a funny story. JT asked me if I would come to the campus. I probably would not have gone and looked at A&M. I saw it just kind of fell in love compared to all the other schools I was looking at.

And for me, just to kind of get a little away from home, too. Slightly different weather conditions. I didn't grow up on bermuda; for me it was poa and bent, so it was really new to me. I thought it was kind of a good choice.

Q. So shooting 65 today, how does that change your outlook for the rest of the week, how you'll prepare and game plan?
CAMERON CHAMP: It's for me not going to change anything. Just keep doing what I'm doing. It's working. Like I said, just going to I guess just stay focused on it and just play until the last hole.

Q. Back in December when we saw you, it was you, Sam, Wyndham, Kevin; you guys were kind of the group. Do you think that you guys -- were you maybe expecting to have early success and then were you doubting before Utah if you could win out there?
CAMERON CHAMP: I wouldn't say I was doubting. I knew I was getting close. Like I said, when I played those, what, three events before Utah, four events, I knew I was really close. Just kind of a few things here or there where I had a good round going, 4- or 5-under, and then I would make a silly bogey that would just throw the momentum off.

I knew I was close; if you could just put it all together. When I got to Utah obviously with the elevation and whatnot, it fit me very well and I putted extremely well that week.

I think I made four or five 50-footers which doesn't happen very often, so just everything fell into place.

Q. Reading about you, it seems like your grandfather is a pretty big part of your life. Can you just talk about him a little bit?
CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, he started me in the game; two years old in the backyard, plastic clubs. My dad played all other sports but golf. At the time, I can't remember exactly because I was so young, but I just loved going to grandpa's house and hitting balls with him over the house.

Over the years just fell in love with that over other sports. He's always been there with me as a kid since I was -- basically since high school. I would always go with him to the course and whatnot.

He's still with us, which I'm very grateful for. Just him to see me, you know, succeed in what I love doing.

Q. Will you call him? Do you talk to him a lot?
CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, we always do. My dad talks to him pretty much every single day. My whole family. He lives about a mile and a half from my house. Home in Sacramento since I live in San Antonio right now.

Q. Do you ever get like annoyed by the fact that how enamored people are, but you want to be more than a golfer that just hits the ball far?
CAMERON CHAMP: I mean, yeah, but obviously now I feel like in this day and age it's kind of what everyone is drawn to. At this point now, I definitely just try to block it out a little bit.

I mean, it's great you can hit it far, but if other parts of your game aren't good you're not going to be able to play the game. Just kind of the way I look at it now.

THE MODERATOR: One last question: Not to put you on the spot too much, but you got the 2018 Calvin Peete Foundation Award.


THE MODERATOR: Just let us know what that award and what it is about you that earned you that award. I remember that was the week at Safeway. That's a pretty impressive award.

CAMERON CHAMP: Yeah, just like I said, growing up as a kid, coming from a minority background, my grandfather was the main key. Obviously at his age he wasn't able to play golf. Wasn't to do much. He went overseas in the Air Force, and that's where he learned how to play and whatnot.

And then obviously when he came back to the United States and then my dad met my mom and I was born, that's where he kind of I guess molded his love the golf. He kind of pushed on me m but I didn't really know it at the time. Then I fell in love with it with him.

The Calvin Peete Award is all the stuff I've done as a kid through the community. My parents really instilled that on me as a kid; we got to give back, even though we didn't have much growing up. I aways did as much as I possibly could.

And then with the foundation now that we got going we're able to do that now. We're able to help the kids in my community that don't have the advantages that I've had. We took over a par-3 course, the course that ever first played, ever played. We'll run after-school programs out there, other educational programs and whatnot.

You know, that's something that I love. I know it's something my dad loves. That's what his passion is. Just going to always continue doing it.

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