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Inspired by Rory McIlroy, Rafael Campos drops nearly 45 pounds

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Rafael Campos is working to flip the switch after a tough few years. 

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican has been ravaged by injuries for several years and lost his PGA Tour card. He had full Tour status for the 2020-21 season and posted top-3 finishes at the Puerto Rico Open and in Puntacana, both of which are opposite-field events. But aside from those two events, he made only five cuts in 23 starts with a single top-20. Then, last year, he had 20 Korn Ferry Tour starts with 14 missed cuts. 

After that, "the water just filled over the edge," he said. So going into 2023, Campos knew he needed to make a change — and in less than six months, he looks and feels like a new person. 

"I've lost approximately 40, 45 pounds in the last five months or so," he said Tuesday ahead of the Corales Puntacana Championship. "Came about just because last year was a really bad year, inconsistent year, injuries were really bad the middle of the year. I've battled with this and through this for the last four years and I just had enough, to tell you the truth, I really did."

Full-field tee times from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

And he has one regret — that he didn't do it sooner. 

"I'm just really upset sometimes when I think about it that I waited so long to make this type of change," Campos said. "Five months ago, I set up a great team — everything, nutritionist, chiropractor, trainer, manager. Just put a brand new team together, start from zero and we're doing a great job."

However, it wasn't just injuries and poor play that kickstarted Campos' weight loss. 

"I remember Rory [McIlroy], an interview he had. Rory was never fat like me, but he was chubbier and I do remember an interview, I still go back to it, I want to say it was like a good 13 years ago," Campos said. "One reporter basically asked him like, 'Hey, how did you get in shape so quick' or why did he do it. He was like, 'Man, my lower back was really bothering me and if I want to play golf until I'm 60 or something like that, I have to get in shape.' I still remember that kind of triggered me saying like, 'OK, this is one of the top players in the world and he's doing something about it,' just because he knows we have to use our body to play and to be able to work. I think that definitely helped."

Now, Campos hopes he can pay it forward and inspire others as he strives to regain his Tour card with a refurbished body and mindset. 

"I do believe this will be an inspiration," he said. "Best example was a couple weeks ago (at the Puerto Rico Open), a lot of people had not seen me in five, six months and it was really cool to see the dads and the younger kids go up to me and just say, 'Oh, wow, I'm really impressed.' ... For youngsters to realize, hey, this kid was pretty fat, and if he can do it and not make excuses, we can do it as well."