Champ wins for dying grandfather, McIlroy rips Euro Tour, Woods cleared for practice: What you missed
Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here's every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of Sept. 30.
Champ wins for ailing grandfather
Tiger Woods punched the sky after doing the impossible at Augusta. Irishman Shane Lowry was swallowed by his own at the Open. But the most indelible image from 2019 has come at the Safeway Open.
Cameron Champ got up and down at the 18th hole at Silverado Resort for a one-shot win over Adam Hadwin, a win that transcends sports.
"No matter if I win one more tournament, 10 more tournaments, whatever it may be, this will be the greatest moment in my golfing career for sure."
That's because Champ's grandfather, Mack, who taught Cameron the game, was in hospice care at the Champ family home in Sacramento, just an hour away from the tour stop in Napa. Mack, a First Tee advocate, has been battling Stage 4 stomach cancer. Knowing Mack's remaining time is precious, Cameron—whose family kept Mack's condition from him until last week—drove between the two venues during the tournament to be there with "PaPa Champ."
What resulted was a spirited performance throughout the week from Champ. Entering the Safeway in a slump (11 missed cuts and just one top-25 finish in his past 17 starts), the 24-year-old former Texas A&M standout began the final round with a three-shot lead and built on his advantage with three birdies in his first six holes on Sunday. But he played the next 11 holes one over, and a charge from Hadwin (three birdies to close his round) put the tournament in doubt. On the 571-yard 18th, Champ unleashed a 369-yard drive, leaving an 8-iron into the green. Though his approach came up short, his pitch did not, leaving him just inside four feet for victory.
When the birdie dropped, the tears followed. Cameron's father, Jeff, embraced him on the green, then connected him with Mack on his cellphone.
This was Champ's second career PGA Tour win. Unlike last year's breakthrough at the Sanderson Farms Championship, however, the Safeway comes with an invitation to the Masters, an honor for any fledgling star. In this case, one shared with family.
"If somehow he can hold on, I mean, it's very not [likely] but I think just knowing that I did it, that was my last gift to him," Champ said.
Romo misses cut after strong start
Tony Romo was in the CBS television booth on Sunday calling the NFL's Bears-Vikings game. For a brief period, however, Romo had his supervisors searching for a replacement.
The former Cowboys quarterback made his fourth PGA Tour start at the Safeway. Unlike his previous appearances, Romo proved a formidable competitor, his two-under 70 in Round 1 was inside the cutline and better than scores from Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama and Collin Morikawa.
Unfortunately, that weekend dream died early Friday afternoon, as Romo carded six bogeys on the front nine and finished with a second-round six-over 78, missing the cut by five.
“I didn’t hit many fairways," Romo said, finding only six on Friday. "With the firmness of the greens, it’s just difficult when you put yourself in some of the spots I was. I didn’t putt well, three three-putts in the first eight holes. Gets you a little antsy as far as trying to get some back."
Despite the short stay, it was an impressive performance from Romo, especially against the growing concern regarding his exemptions. Moreover, his play was proof this foray is more than a vanity project.
“You’re always going to grind. It’s sports," Romo said. "You’re always going to try to improve. A lot of good stuff this week. Hit a lot of good shots. Signs of life.”
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Rory rips into European Tour
Rory McIlroy had to be convinced—first by commissioner Keith Pelley, then by his wife—to keep his European Tour membership this year. But following his latest shots against the tour, it's clear the relationship remains icy.
“I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy, who has played only four “regular” European Tour events (non-major and non-WGC tournaments) this season. “I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough. There are no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back and it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be. It happened in the Scottish Open at Renaissance. I shot 13 under and finished 30th [actually T-34] again. It’s not a good test.
"I think if the European Tour wants to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and setups need to be tougher.”
In a related note, McIlroy said his 2020 schedule would mirror his 2019 itinerary. Meaning more events in America, fewer appearances overseas.
“Winning the FedEx Cup was validation of my decision to play more in the States,” McIlroy said. “I’m getting stick [for not playing more in Europe], but I’m turning down millions of dollars [by not going] to Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia because I want to do the right thing. I want to play on the courses I want to play at. I don’t think I should get stick for that because I feel like I’m doing the right thing."
This is far from the first time McIlroy has downplayed the importance of the Euro Tour. Last year he asserted the PGA Tour was paramount to his growth as a golfer, and recently said he didn't know if he would commit to the Irish Open because he'd rather be with his wife's family for Fourth of July celebrations. At this juncture McIlroy should embrace a full Euro heel turn and play for the United States at the 2020 Ryder Cup.
That sound you just heard was a thousand British writers having an aneurysm.
Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
China's Yuxin Lin wins second Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship
Cameron Champ wasn't the only player to secure a trip to the Masters this weekend.
Yuxin Lin defeated World Am No. 1 Takumi Kanaya on the second playoff hole at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
And how. Lin, a freshman at the University of Southern California, held a one-shot advantage heading into the final hole. But the 18-year-old had bogeyed the 18th on Friday and followed with a double on Saturday. It wasn't his friend the fourth time, either, as he made another bogey after hitting his second shot in the water.
Yet Lin, who won the event in 2017, answered with vigor, matching Kanaya's 18-foot birdie on the first playoff hole—at Lin's nemesis, the 18th—with a 10-footer of his own, then getting up and down for birdie on the second hole of sudden death to earn the W.
“It feels amazing,” said Lin, who'll receive invitations to the 2020 Masters and Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. “To be able to get back to Augusta and the British Open … I’m a little bit speechless at the moment. It’s a great feeling.”
Tiger cleared for practice
Tiger Woods made his first appearance on a golf course since his latest knee surgery last week, hosting the inaugural NEXUS Cup at Liberty National for his TGR Foundation. In a promotional interview with "Good Morning America," Woods said he's been cleared to resume full golf activities.
“I got the clearance last week to start full practice, and so I played nine holes the other day,” Woods told Michael Strahan (who Woods beat in a putting challenge earlier in the week). “It’s sore, yeah, but now I can start lifting and getting my muscle back and getting my weight up."
Woods had an arthroscopic procedure during the Tour Championship on his left knee to repair minor cartilage damage. It is the fifth career knee procedure for Woods on his left knee, to go along with four surgeries on his back.
Woods will return to competition for GOLFTV's "The Challenge: Japan Skins" on Oct. 21. Later that week he will play in the PGA Tour's inaugural Zozo Championship. He is also scheduled to play in his foundation's Hero World Challenge, and remains a playing candidate for the Presidents Cup team he will captain in December.