Date: December 04, 2010

Campbell plans resurrection

By John Huggan Just as one former U.S Open champion was going about the business of firmly establishing himself atop the leader board during the third round of this enthralling Australian Open, his immediate predecessor was employed in the more prosaic task of resurrecting a career gone awry. And Michael Campbell, at long last, is getting there. Having hit more than 90 percent of the fairways and over 80 percent of the greens over the course of his first 54 holes here at The Lakes, the 41-year old New Zealander is five under par and in a tie for seventeenth place. All of which may not sound like much for a man good enough to win a major championship less than six years ago. But even a quick glance at Campbell s record on the European Tour this year shows just how far he had fallen. In 19 events on the world s second-biggest circuit during 2010, he missed the halfway cut as many as 16 times. Only twice did he shoot rounds in the 60s; on nine occasions he soared into the 80s. And his winnings a paltry 13,576 (approximately $18,355). Still, things are definitely on the up for the likeable Kiwi. Only two weeks ago he shot four steady rounds at the Australian Masters, was but one over par for the 72 holes and tied for a respectable twenty-eighth spot. And this week, he has so far broken par every day. Indeed, the 69 Campbell shot on day three should have been perhaps four shots better, but for some weak work on the greens. By way of example, a four-footer for eagle at the long 14th slid by, as did a ten-foot putt for birdie on the next green. The par he made at the long 17th was the result of two magnificent shots and three not-so-great putts. And the 30-footer he had for birdie on the last? Lipped out. The last three days have been very encouraging, said Campbell. I ve been working with a new coach in Gary Edwin for the last two weeks. He’s been a great help. I hit 15 greens in each of the first two rounds and 16 today. If I d had any luck on the greens at all, I would be right up there in contention. That s a nice feeling. I couldn’t really have been further south than I was this season. Still, I have to admit I m happy just to be heading in the right direction. We ve worked hard on just simplifying everything. In fact, I ve been doing the same off the course. We moved house recently and I threw out a lot of stuff. Basically, I ve done the same with my golf swing; I ve thrown out all the rubbish. Gary has given me a new lease of life. Today, I hit so many quality shots that finished pin-high, which is always a good sign. At last I m swinging the club well. Edwin, as is his way, downplays the obvious and immediate influence he has had on Campbell s game. All we ve really done is get Michael back to swinging the way he was when he won the US Open at Pinehurst in 2005, he says. He has so much talent, it didn t take him long for him to get back to flushing it. He was funny too; he told me he hadn t hit a fade in five years. Now he’s striking the ball beautifully, with that flight only the best players have. Once he starts putting better, he ll be back in contention before long. I m looking forward to watching him next year. As are we all.