Jackson – Rookie Cameron Champ is getting his PGA Tour career off to a rousing start by firing a 65 for a one-stroke lead in the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship.
The long-hitting Champ closed his round with four birdies on his final six holes at the event in Jackson, Mississippi, which was suspended on Thursday because of darkness.
The 23-year-old Champ finished tied for 25th in his Tour debut at the Safeway Open after finishing sixth on the Web.com money list last season. He led the Web.com in driving distance, setting a record with an average of 343.7 yards.
Champ has a one-stroke lead over Cameron Tringale who shot a six-under 66. South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini and American D.J. Trahan are tied for third at five-under 67, two shots back of Champ.
“I know the rough here is pretty brutal in some areas, but today I drove very well off the tee,” he said.
Champ, who earned his PGA Tour card less than a year after turning pro, finished with eight birdies and just one bogey at the Country Club of Jackson on Thursday.
His power was on full display in the first round as he drove his tee shot over the green on the 315-yard par four 15th hole. He bombed his way to a birdie on 18 by blasting a 347-yard drive off the tee.
“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,” he said.
Tringale was tied with Champ for the lead right up until the final hole.
The 31-year-old Tringale has managed to keep his Tour card every year since turning pro in 2009. He missed the cut 19 times last season but managed to retain his card by tying for third place at the Web.com Tour Championship.
Tringle said bad thoughts turn into bad shots so he is trying to think more positive during the round.
“It was hard to play golf short and crooked,” he said. “I’ve been driving it a lot better since the Web.com Tour finals.
“I am trying to see my shot more clearly and hit the shot I’m trying to play instead of thinking about the shot I don’t want to have happen.”
There were 12 players who were still on the course when the horn sounded to stop play for the day on Thursday.
Leading scores in the first round of the US PGA Tour Sanderson Farms Championship on Thursday in Jackson, Mississippi (USA unless noted, par 72):
65 – Cameron Champ
66 – Cameron Tringale
67 – Rory Sabbatini (RSA), D.J. Trahan, Andres Romero (ARG) Chad Ramey, Robert Streb
68 – Shawn Stefani, Scott Langley, Jonathan Byrd, Jhonattan Vegas (VEN), Scottie Scheffler, Matt Every, Robert Garrigus, Lucas Glover, Norman Xiong
69 – Nick Taylor (CAN), Sam Saunders, Richy Werenski, Vaughn Taylor, Kevin Streelman, Sam Burns, Fabin Gmez (ARG), Hudson Swafford, Dawson Armstrong, Nate Lashley