26-year-old Chad Campbell had been hailed as a 'can't-miss' prospect since the beginning of the year. Sunday in Richmond, Va., at Stonehenge Golf and Country Club, Campbell started hot with a streak of birdies and finished with a birdie to capture his first Buy.Com Tour victory. His 21-under-par performance in the tournament earned him a first-place check of $76,500.
After making birdies at Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and then holing his 3rd shot at the par-5 4th for eagle, Campbell let it be known there was no hanging Chad on this particular Sunday; the rest of the field would have to out-shoot him.
They tried. Oh they tried. Veteran Kelly Gibson, who fired 64 on Saturday went low again with a Sunday round of 66. Darron Stiles had his own string of birdies to begin the day. He birdied each of the first four, but couldn't overcome Campbell's start of 6-under after six holes. J.J. Henry, himself a 26-year-old who went birdie-for-birdie with Campbell on Saturday, couldn't keep up on Sunday. He shot 1-under par on the day, finishing well back of Campbell's scorching pace of 65, the low round of the day.
So it's Campbell - a tour rookie - who wins the Richmond Open. His resume says we shouldn't be surprised. After all, he hasn't missed a cut all year and stood 9th on the money list coming into the week. If you think that sounds appealing, consider his year in 2000! All Campbell, who hails from Texas, did was win eight of the first 16 Hooters Tour events. He won 13 in all on the Hooters Tour. But until Richmond he still felt he had something to prove, and boy did he prove it!
What does this say about Campbell? It cements his place among the best on the Buy.Com Tour and makes believers out of those who were asking the young Texan to 'prove it' on the bigger stage. Now, first on the money list with more than $160,000 dollars for the year, Campbell has set himself up for more than just a good year financially. He also has a PGA Tour card well in his sights, which will be awarded to the each of the top 15 on the Buy.Com money list at year's end.
It's nice to see the Tour allow for its young guns to shine, and you can bet he'll tell you it was pleasing to beat the many veterans littering the leaderboard throughout the week. The likes of Gibson, Mike Heinen, Jim McGovern and local Richmond hero Bobby Wadkins all made their presence known, but in the end, as Gibson himself said after his round, 'No way to keep up with the kid - he's good!'
So add Campbell's name to the 'keep an eye on this kid' list, which now includes Jonathan Byrd, who won in Greenville, S.C., at the age of 23, Ryuji Imada, and David Gossett. All have been drawing raves from those in 'the know.' It's what makes this tour so much fun to cover, and so much fun to watch.
A final message then, to all those around the country and Canada too: head out to your nearest Buy.Com Tour event. These guys ARE good, and in a few years they'll be beating a group of veterans on the PGA Tour!