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3M Open: Cam Champ focused on his game, not defending his title

He suffered a broken left wrist about a month and a half after winning the 3M Open last year.

073122.S.STP.3MCHAMP.PNG  Cameron Champ
Cameron Champ holds up the 3M Open trophy after winning the 3M Open golf tournament in Blaine, Minn., Sunday, July 25, 2021.
Bruce Kluckhohn / USA Today Sports
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BLAINE, Minn. — Cam Champ stuck a wedge shot on No. 18 last year during the final round of the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota to essentially lock up the title. He made the putt, hoisted the trophy over his head a few minutes later, and declared himself to be the happiest he’s ever been.

It looked like a launching pad for Champ, a fan favorite, who many consider to be the longest hitter on the PGA Tour. The limit did not appear to exist when it came to his ceiling as a player.

Which is what has made the past year such a disappointment for him. After suffering a broken left wrist about a month and a half after winning the 3M Open, Champ missed most of the fall events while he worked his way through the recovery process.

Though he has had some highlights since making his return to the PGA Tour, namely a top-10 finish at the Masters in April, Champ has missed the cut in nine of the 15 events he has competed in this year. He actually hasn’t completed a 72-hole tournament since May 15, when he tied for 38th at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“This year’s been an eventful year, to say the least,” Champ said. “I’ve had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life mixed in with me breaking my wrist in the fall. That was a whole unknown for quite a while if it was going to be serious. Luckily, it wasn’t too serious. It was very close to possibly hurting my career for a long time.”

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As difficult as this year has been so far, Champ feels like a couple of good weeks could turn things around. There might not be a better place for him to start that turnaround than at TPC Twin Cities.

“It’s nice to be back at a place where I have very good memories,” he said. “This is a place where it doesn’t matter if I play good or bad, I’m just very comfortable.”

That level of comfort has put Champ in “a good head space” entering the 3M Open this week. He tees off at 12:44 p.m. Thursday alongside Michael Thompson and Chez Reavie.

“This is probably the most excited I’ve been in a very, very long time,” said Champ, who added that he recently figured out “some equipment problems” that have been plaguing him. “I’m putting it good. These greens (at TPC Twin Cities) are kind of what I’m used to. It’s kind of what I grew up on.”

As for being the reigning champion at 3M Open, that’s not something Champ is thinking about. He knows that putting pressure on himself to repeat isn’t going to do him any good.

“I don’t really have any expectations,” he said. “It’s nice, obviously, coming back and trying to defend. That obviously means I’m doing something good. In the end, though, if I’m thinking about that all day, I’m probably not going to play too well.”

In a perfect world for Champ, he will play to the best of his abilities this week at TPC Twin Cities, proving to himself, and everyone else, that he can still be great.

Perhaps the 3M Open can still be a launching pad for him in that sense. Even if it’s a year later than originally expected.

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“The past 10 months was pretty rough for me,” he said. “I had to get over a lot of things and get through some things. Now we’re on the up and up, and we’re just going to get after it.”

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