Campbell A Champion Ten Years Later

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Michael Campbell stood on the first tee of the Old Course, suddenly overwhelmed by the prospect of being just 18 holes from a life-changing victory at the birthplace of golf.
His legs shook. His hands quivered. His mind raced.
I had no idea what I was doing, to be honest, Campbell is willing to admit now, a decade later.
Come Sunday, if he finds himself in a similar position going to the final round of the British Open, expect a much different reaction.
Im a serious player now, Campbell said. I proved to myself that I can do it. Thats more important than anything else in the world. I know that if I can get to the same situation, I can probably handle it quite well.
Campbell is walking like a champion these days, just three weeks removed from a victory at the U.S. Open and 10 years down the road from his first flirtation with greatness, at St. Andrews of all places.
Back then, he was only 26 and virtually unknown outside of his native New Zealand. But Campbell took a two-stroke lead to the final round of the 1995 British Open, his confidence soaring after one of the most brilliant rounds in the tournaments long history on the penultimate day.
In howling winds that reduced most of the worlds best players to mere hackers, Campbell somehow managed a bogey-free round of 65, highlighted by an improbable escape from the dreaded Road Bunker alongside the 17th green'golfs version of Alcatraz.
Campbell hit a shot virtually straight up, the ball defying all laws of physics as it skimmed the face of the cavernous pit, stayed above the lip and rolled to a stop just 18 inches from the hole. He spread his arms wide, tipped his cap to the roaring gallery and stepped up for his par-saving tap-in.
Unfortunately for Campbell, it was only Saturday.
When he returned the following afternoon, the certainty in his game was gone. The ominous signs of a meltdown were apparent from the very first swing.
I nearly missed the fairway, he recalled Tuesday. Its like a hundred yards wide and I almost missed it. My mind was racing a lot. I had no way to calm my nerves down. I had a lot of consequences on myself. I thought about the consequences.
I was too young. I wasnt ready to win.
Campbell struggled that final day to a 4-over 76, one stroke behind John Daly and Costantino Rocca, the memory of that thrilling ride 24 hours earlier swept away as if caught in one of the North Seas towering waves.
The co-leaders went on a playoff won by Daly, while Campbells meteoric rise to the ranks of star-in-the-making would be eclipsed by a more spectacular fall.
A couple of years later, plagued by injuries, mired in a streak of missed cuts, and coming off two rounds in the 80s at the French Open, Campbell thought it might be time to give up the game.
He had a career to fall back on, having worked for a telephone company before turning pro.
I fixed telephones, Campbell said, able to grin now about one of the lowest times in his life.
He stuck with golf, his perseverance finally paying off at Pinehurst No. 2 last month.
With the games greatest player in his rearview mirror, Campbell produced a virtually flawless round at that toughest of tests, the U.S. Open.
More important, he did it on the final day of a major instead of the next-to-last day, holding off Tiger Woods by two strokes and joining the sports most exclusive club.
A decade behind schedule, hes finally a major champion. A decade later, he finally feels as if he belongs.
Jack Nicklaus sent along a letter of congratulations. So did Arnold Palmer. Greg Norman called. So did the prime minister of New Zealand. A couple of weeks from now, theyll hold a ticker-tape parade in Campbells honor back home.
It was worth the wait, Campbell said. A lot of players, caddies, friends of mine and complete strangers come up to me and say, Well done. Its kind of neat to have that respect from my peers. Ive really been enjoying that.
While Woods came up short at Pinehurst'a shaky putter the final day doomed his chances'hes still an overwhelming favorite to make it two major wins this year and 10 in his career.
Hes emerged from the second major swing change of his career, positioning himself for another remarkable run in the majors.
The two processes I went through were huge for me, he said. And trust me, I dont want to do it again because it takes lot of patience, a lot of hard work, countless hours on the range and at home in front of the mirror, trying to get it right. It takes a lot out of you.
Woods may not win seven times in 11 tries, as he did a few years ago during a stretch that included his runaway win at the 2000 British Open. But the eye of the Tiger is back, staring directly at Nicklaus record of 18 major championships.
Im just in my 20s and Ive won nine, said Woods, still a few months from his 30th birthday. I didnt think I would win this many in my 20s. A golfers prime years arent usually until their 30s.
Its going to take me a while. But at least Im heading in the right direction.
Largely because of Woods influence, Campbell is headed in the right direction, too.
He definitely raised the bar, Campbell said. He made me work harder, thats the bottom line. Made me go to the gym longer, work out harder, practice longer on the range. He definitely made a huge impact on my career.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 134th Open Champoinship
  • Daily Photo Gallery
  • Open Championship Trivia Challenge
  • Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

    Getty Images

    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.