European Perspective

By Tom AbbottApril 24, 2011, 3:02 pm

European Tour

Michael Campbell managed to suspend the parliament of New Zealand back in June 2005. Such was the significance of Campbell’s victory at Pinehurst; ministers felt it was more important to watch their fellow countryman win the U.S. Open than deal with matters of State. 

It was an impressive win, as he fended off the challenge of Tiger Woods, imagining the huge roars he heard rumbling through the pine trees were all for him rather than for their intended targets. He was on top of the world, and went on to claim the Volvo World Matchplay at Wentworth later in the year.

Yet four years later he was lost, a shoulder injury was not helping the cause, but his lack of confidence – especially with the driver – was killing him.

From late 2008 until March of this year, Campbell failed to finish inside the top 50 of a European Tour event. It was a stretch that saw him miss 35 of 44 cuts.

Some questioned whether he would disappear from competitive play in a similar fashion to the way Ian Baker-Finch drifted to the commentary box, but a chance meeting at last year’s Dunhill Links Championship seems to have changed his fortunes. 

Campbell took a courtesy car from Carnoustie to St. Andrews with Sir Steve Redgrave, the five-time Olympic Gold Medal winner who claimed his titles in five consecutive Summer Games. The pair have been friends for six years and Campbell had been keen to rack his brains, and with the journey time close to 45 minutes, he had the perfect opportunity. 

Redgrave told his friend to start working harder, explaining that once you’ve achieved the pinnacle of the sport there is no reason why you can’t do it again.

“if you’ve already climbed Everest, do it the next time without oxygen,” he said.

The words stuck and now some six months later, Campbell believes he’s turned the corner.

After an opening 67 at the Volvo China Open last week, he told the media he was on the way back. A third-round 75 knocked him back down the field but it was another check banked and a third consecutive cut made.

Campbell is traveling with a full-time fitness instructor keeping a careful eye on his shoulder problems, he’s working hard and seems to be making steps toward finding the sort of form which has propelled him to the top of the game.

This isn’t the first time he’s made a comeback, after finishing fifth on the European Tour Order of Merit his rookie season of 1995, a year in which he sniffed an Open Championship at St. Andrews, finished just outside the play-off, Campbell lost his way before re-emerging in 2000.

There’s nothing to say he can’t do the same again.

 


 

The future of the Volvo World Matchplay Championship is secure. Per Ericsson of Volvo, speaking during Saturday’s broadcast of the Volvo China Open, confirmed the event will be a regular fixture on the European Tour calendar.

Having been absent last year, the event will continue in its May time slot each year from now on.

The same can also be said for the new Volvo Golf Champions event which was played this year in Bahrain, shortly before the country was affected by civil unrest.

Ericsson confirmed the company’s pleasure with the tournament but said the host country and venue was still to be confirmed. Ericsson will travel to Bahrain next week to meet with officials and discuss the country’s future involvement.

Golf is not the only sport with question marks surrounding its future in the Kingdom, organizers of the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix, which was cancelled due to the troubles, have until May 1st to confirm whether they will re-schedule the race for later this year.

One option which has been discussed with the Volvo Golf Champions is to move the event around the world, playing in a different region each year. With a February slot on the schedule one thing is for sure, “It won’t be played in Europe,” said Ericsson.

Getty Images

McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

Getty Images

Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

Getty Images

Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

Getty Images

Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.