Over the past 12 months, Campbell has risen from 159th on the Official World Golf Ranking to 16th. In addition to the Johnnie Walker, he's won the New Zealand Open and the Ericsson Masters on the Australasian Tour; and the Heineken Classic and the Linde German Masters on the European Tour. In the process, he's gone from 41st on the season-ending Order of Merit in 1999 to 4th in 2000.
Campbell will be defending his title at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club in Bangkok. Two years ago, the event was contested in Thailand, though at a different venue. The winner, you ask? Tiger Woods.
Woods is back in 2000. Amid his public battles with the PGA Tour and protests from Thai Nike workers, Tiger is seeking his 10th worldwide win of the year. Woods will be paired in the first two rounds with Campbell, whom he defeated 5-and-4 in the first round of the WGC-Andersen Consulting World Match Play Championship in February.
Also in attendance this week are 1993 Johnnie Walker champion Nick Faldo, Sergio Garcia, Paul Lawrie, Jesper Parnevik and European Tour Rookie of the Year Ian Poulter.
Ernie Els withdrew due to a bad back, the same ailment that forced him to withdraw from last week's WGC-American Express Championship. Lee Westwood, who captured the 2000 Order of Merit, also decided to skip this event. The Englishman said he wanted to be with his wife, who is expecting their first child.
This will be the first official event on the 2001 European Tour schedule. The Johnnie Walker Classic is a tri-sanctioned event between the European Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian PGA's Davidoff Tour.