FORT WAYNE, Ind. – While the girls traded leads all around them at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, Robby Shelton and Cameron Champ – playing in a group between the two leading girls groups – became a two-man show in the final round of the Junior PGA Championship.
Shelton, who has won his age division at the Future Masters in four of the past five years, took a one-shot lead into the final round of the Junior PGA Championship, but by No. 15 Champ had pulled even.
That’s when the carnage began.
Champ pulled his second shot into the water at No. 15. He made an angry triple bogey to give Shelton a three-shot cushion. Champ, who had been the steadiest man of the week and led the field in birdies after Round 3, said he needed to get his frustration out to move on.
“I’m just very competitive; I don’t like to lose,” he said. “When I’m playing that well and something like that happens, it kind of gives me a shock and I just have to let it out. If I leave it in, it’s just going to stay with me.”
From there, Shelton, of Wilmer, Ala., said he became less nervous. He just had to finish without a train wreck. He birdied No. 17 and bogeyed No. 18 to finish the tournament at 13-under 275 and claim the biggest title of his junior career. That Shelton returned a 2-under 70 in the final round after a course-record 64 in Round 3 shows he is especially steady.
“I was hitting it so good that it wasn’t that hard to come back from it,” he said. “Coming down the stretch was big.”
With the win, Shelton also earned a spot on the Junior Ryder Cup. Champ, by finishing runner-up, did too. His spot hinged on his chip-in from behind the green at No. 18, which got him to even-par 72 on the day and bumped him out of a tie with Tyler McDaniel. A group of Champ’s cronies in the lunch room, which overlooks that green, exploded. Minutes later, Champ’s face lit up when he put two and two together. Beau Hossler also qualifies for that squad as the leading Junior Ryder Cup points getter, and the rest of that six-man team will be announced in the coming days.
It’s why there was so much more on the line at Sycamore Hills than just a trophy.