Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, and Rory McIlroy are probably the names cited most in the debate over who the PGA Tour’s longest hitter is. At least, they were the names cited most. With Cameron Champ now on the PGA Tour, there might not be a debate anymore.
The talented Texas A&M product finished T-25 at the Safeway Open in his debut as a full-time PGA Tour member this past week, but it’s his driving stats that are downright staggering. Champ notched his best performance in seven career tour starts despite posting negative numbers in both strokes gained: putting (-.179) and around-the-green (-.268), because his 1.605 strokes gained: driving led the field at Silverado Resort & Spa. Easily.
Luke List, who finished T-4 at the Safeway Open, was second in the category at 1.466. List was second on the PGA Tour in the stat last season at .816, trailing only World No. 1 Dustin Johnson at .920. List also led the way in driving distance (339.5 yards) last week on the eight tee shots that were officially measured. But while Champ “only” averaged 328.6 yards on those selected shots, he led the way with his average distance of all drives at 317.1. But even those numbers don’t tell the full story of the 23-year-old’s staggering raw power.
When it comes to average clubhead speed and ball speed, Champ was easily No. 1 at 129.66 mph and 192.67 mph. Fellow bomber Brandon Hagy, who sat out most of last season with a wrist injury, was second at 125.14 and 186.32. And winner Kevin Tway showed he can really move it off the tee as well, finishing seventh and eighth in the two metrics.
To put these numbers in better perspective, Keith Mitchell led the PGA Tour in average clubhead speed last season at 124.67 and no one else was above 123. Trey Mullinax led the tour in ball speed last season at 182.22, followed by Tony Finau (181.81) and Rory McIlroy (181.57). Simple math tells us that Champ’s Safeway Open average numbers were five and TEN mph faster in those two categories. Remarkable.
Of course, golf fans have known about Champ’s prodigious power since he made a name for himself at the 2017 U.S. Open. As an amateur, Champ entered the weekend at Erin Hills tied for eighth before falling to T-32. He earned his PGA Tour card on the Web.com Tour this year where he finished sixth on the money list and won the Utah Championship while averaging 391(!) yards off the tee.
And again, he’s not just driving for show. Champ only hit 50 percent of his fairways (88th in the field), but still led the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee. In other words, Cameron Champ’s driver might be the most effective — and fun to watch — weapon on the PGA Tour this season.