For three years, he participated in the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. This week, the Sacramento, Calif., golfer is playing in the Palmetto Amateur at Palmetto Golf Club. And his surroundings are somewhat familiar.
“A little bit,” he said.
Halfway through the Palmetto Amateur, Champ is 12 shots behind leader Will Long. The Gastonia, N.C., golfer followed his opening 5-under-par 65 with 68 for a 7-under 133 total. Long holds a two-shot lead over Ted Moon.
Augusta’s Emmanuel Kountakis is in third place at 68-69–137.
Champ has shot 71-74–145.
In April, Champ made a charge in the final round of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. After posting a pair of top-20 showings the previous two years in the event, he stood at 6-under on his round before a bogey-bogey finish left him one shot behind champion Scottie Scheffler, who is playing in the PGA Tour’s St. Jude Classic this week.
Champ said Palmetto presents a different challenge than Sage Valley Golf Club.
“Sage is like our Masters,” he said. “It’s perfect conditions. There’s no brown spots. This course is different. It’s been a long time since I’ve played on greens like this. For me, it’s a challenge, and I like the challenge.”
In late May in Carmichael, Calif., Champ won the Memorial Amateur by two shots.
With a schedule full of East Coast events this summer, Champ said his father found the Palmetto Amateur and thought it’d be a good fit. He cited the toughness of the field and the prestige of the event.
And despite the course being only 6,713 yards, the long-hitting Champ hasn’t been able to get in a rhythm yet.
“When you go around it it seems easy, but it’s not,” he said. “I actually like this place. It really challenges you.”
After the Palmetto Amateur, Champ plays in the AJGA’s prestigious FootJoy Invitational next week in Greensboro, N.C. Then, he’ll play in the Northeast Amateur in two weeks in Rhode Island. At the end of the month, Champ will participate in the Dogwood Invitational in Atlanta.
In August – provided he doesn’t qualify for the U.S. Amateur – he’ll head to Texas A&M. According to an April issue of Golfweek, Champ already has 31 college credits under his belt thanks to online learning.
He said College Station, Texas, is a good fit for him.
“It’s a small town,” he said. “The course is two miles away from campus. The facilities are all brand new. I like the way the coach runs the team. All around, I felt comfortable.”