BLAINE, Minn. – Cameron Champ has worked hard of late on finding the proper balance to enjoy life both inside and outside the gallery ropes, taking great measures to relax more with golf club in hand and appreciate the game while not being so hard on himself when poor rounds and tournaments pile up.
Golf, he has said, isn’t the only thing in his life.
Well, it sure looked like he had a boatload of fun in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Champ, who has struggled at times since winning the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship and the 2019 Safeway Open in his first two seasons on the PGA Tour, added title No. 3 Sunday in the 3M Open at hot and sunlit TPC Twin Cities.
With a final-round, bogey-free, 5-under-par 66, Champ finished at 15 under and two shots clear of the field. Champ, 26, hadn’t had a top-10 finish this year and had missed four cuts and withdrew from the Memorial in five starts before tying for 11th in the John Deere Classic two weeks ago.
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Photos: 3M Open 2021 at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota
Champ, who started the round two shots back and was one of 22 players to begin the day within four shots of the lead, grabbed a share of the lead with a birdie on the eighth, took sole possession with a birdie on the 11th, and gave himself a two-shot cushion with a birdie on 16 from 14 feet.
That proved beneficial as Champ didn’t panic as he blew his drive on the 18th way left into high grass and was forced to try and chip back to the fairway. His shot wound up in the primary rough 207 yards from the hole. He laid up from there to 127 yards and then hit his fourth to inside three feet and finished off with a par.
“Well, I didn’t make it boring,” Champ said. “I got dehydrated, not weak, but I could feel it, and that Gatorade on 16 really helped. On 18, I’m hitting driver no matter what. I knew what my lead was but that was our game plan this week and we stuck with it on 18. But I did make it interesting at the end.”
As for taking a new approach to the game and life, Champ said it paid dividends coming down the stretch.
“It was huge. After Detroit, I had to figure out who I am,” Champ said of missing the cut at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, his fourth missed cut in five starts. “I want to be a good husband, a good father, a friend. I have to figure it out and find balance in my life. I have to concentrate on the process and not the results in this game. The last few weeks have been great.”
Jhonattan Vegas, who was one shot out of the lead when he three-putted from 57 feet on 17 and then just missed his eagle attempt from 20 feet on 18, closed with a 68 to finish at 13 under and in a tie for second. On Monday, he will fly to Tokyo to represent Venezuela in the Olympics.
“It’s super exciting. We don’t really get to play for our countries that often and every chance you get a chance it means a lot,” Vegas said. “Venezuela’s been going through extremely rough times lately. To be able to represent it and hopefully give the country a medal would be a dream come true.”
Vegas was joined at 13 under by Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, who finished in a tie for third in last week’s British Open after finishing runner-up in the previous two majors. He nearly holed out for eagle from 96 yards on the 18th and shot 66.
“I was happy to play this week. I sort of didn’t really want to just think about last week, about not playing great on that Sunday,” Oosthuizen said. “Great track. We had a good time here this week and I’m just trying to see if I can go one better than all these seconds and thirds.”
Keith Mitchell, who tied a PGA Tour record when he began his third round with seven consecutive birdies, shot 67 to finish fifth at 12 under.
Overnight leader Cameron Tringale, who was trying to win his first title in his 306th start as a professional on the PGA Tour, was one shot out of the lead when he made a triple-bogey 6 on the short par-3 13th and finished with a 74 and in a tie for 16th. He has won slightly more than $14 million in earnings, the most in PGA Tour history for a player without a victory.