Date: February 01, 2007
Author: Luke Buttigieg

Nikki’s nerves after dream start

By Luke Buttigieg Nerves got to Nikki Campbell after she sizzled through the Royal Sydney back nine in just 29 strokes on the opening day of the MFS Women&aposs Australian Open, but she is nonetheless pleased to have shot 67. Backing up after scoring her maiden Japanese Tour win in 2006, 26-year-old Campbell grabbed an eagle and five birdies to shoot four shots clear when she reached the turn midway through the morning. But after the &aposdream nine holes&apos in which everything &aposjust all seemed to fall into place&apos, Campbell gave a couple of the shots back – at the third and ninth holes – as fellow Australian Sarah Kemp took over the outright lead. “The second nine I was a little bit nervous because obviously you don&apost shoot seven-under through nine holes every day but I just tried to go out and concentrate on one shot at a time and make sure that I committed to every shot and I felt that I did that,” Campbell said. “I had a lot of birdie chances coming home and I hit good putts and they didn&apost go in. I just made a couple of soft short-game bogeys which was disappointing but I think on a course like this things like that are going to happen.” “You&aposve just got to understand that it&aposs an Open tournament and it&aposs tough so you&aposre going to make some soft bogeys and I guess the less you can do that the better but I&aposm not going to get too upset about it.” Having made a couple of monster putts in her first nine, including for an eagle at the 16th, Campbell said she had forced herself to remain composed and not try to get too far ahead of herself. “I thought I&aposve got to appreciate that it&aposs a tough golf course and not try to attack it too much and just be patient and just hit one shot at a time,” said Campbell, who last year won the We Love Kobe Suntory Ladies Open. “I felt that I did that coming home, just the putts didn&apost drop was basically the difference. But I had some chances. If someone had said will you take five-under I&aposd say &aposyep&apos.” Campbell, who has worked with her coach Dale Lynch honing her game over the summer break, misjudged the wind on her final hole and wasn&apost able to recover from hitting through the green. But she is under no illusions that the course will play as easy as it has on the opening day, knowing that it is ready to bare its teeth if the Sydney wind gets up over the ensuing days. “I think it&aposs all to do with the wind, that was a little breeze out there but compared to how it can blow if it blows then shots coming in downwind you can&apost stop and shots if you&aposre playing a hole into the wind they play really long,” Campbell said. “And it&aposs a bit harder to control the accuracy of shots when you&aposre hitting into the wind so I think the difference is not the course itself, it&aposs the wind and I think playing this morning, because the wind didn&apost get up, everyone has to sort of take advantage of that.” Not one who pays attention to how much money she plays for each week because she doesn&apost want to be thinking about the purse in the closing stages of an event, Campbell would dearly love to win her home Open, but says winning or losing doesn&apost define her week. “I&aposd like to win this week, but for me it&aposs more about playing four solid rounds and just trying to improve myself as a player,” she said. “Winning tournaments, you can&apost necessarily control that, other players it depends on how they play.” “As long as I go out there and play what I feel is good golf, then if I win at the end, if I finish 10th at the end, as long as I can walk away and say &aposYep, I&aposm happy with that, I&aposm happy with how I played&apos, then winning or coming runner-up or wherever you finish in the field is pretty irrelevant.”