By Michael McGill

Michael Campbell is one of the greatest golfers to come out of New Zealand.

He has won 15 professional events to date. Seven have been on the European Tour, seven on the Australasian Tour and one memorable Major.

Sunday, 19 June, 2005 will be a day that Michael Campbell will remember for the rest of his life, not to mention most of the sports loving population of New Zealand.

He started the fourth round of the U.S Open four shots back from the overnight leader Retief Goosen. While those around him started to fade away Michael carded a one under 69 to win his maiden Major title by two strokes from Tiger Woods.

What makes it all the more remarkable was that he had to come through sectional qualifying to make it in to the field.

The rest as they say is history. Michael Campbell became the first and only Kiwi to win the U.S Open. He also joined Sir Bob Charles as the second New Zealander to win a Major title.

The 2005 season has been his best season to date. He also won the HSBC World Match Play Championship and had six other Top 10 finishes including the Open Championship and US PGA Championship.

Then like many golfers before him he hit a hurdle. Injuries and a severe form slump had him contemplating if he should continue playing the game.

It became a regular occurrence to see the MC next to his name in the papers on a Monday.

In 2009 he played in 23 tournaments. His best result was 62nd in the SAS Masters in Sweden. The 2010 season was just as miserable. A 79th placing in the Open de France was the highest finish from 23 starts.

Last season did not fair much better. From 27 starts he only made eight cuts. The only tournament worth mentioning is the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco where he finished in a tie for 19th.

This year was looking like it was going to be more of the same when he started the season ranked 755 in the Official World Golf Rankings. He had eight missed cuts from his first nine tournaments.

Then things started to change.

Michael and his family moved to Spain which has made a big difference to the family environment. After spending many years on the road it has been extremely important for him to establish somewhere as a family.

He then started working with Jonathan Yarwood again after a three year break. As Michael puts it ‘I feel it’s quite refreshing for a player and coach to have a little break from time to time’.

In September he was ranked 607 in the world as he headed into the Portugal Masters. He played well with all four rounds being under par. It was his best finish in four years. A 3rd place finish and a cheque for 140,000 Euros.

The numbers then moved at a rapid rate of knots. Michael moved to 361 in the OWGR.

The BMW Masters in China then followed where he was T30th and picked up another 45,000 Euros. The ranking moved again. This time it was 333.

A missed cut followed at the Barclays Singapore Open.

The Hong Kong Open was the next stop in October. After three rounds of 67, 64 and 69, Michael found himself in a share of the lead.

He went on to finish in a tie for 8th place and received another cheque for 37,000 Euros.

He now sits at 288 on the Official World Golf Rankings. That is a move of 467 spots in eleven months.

Those three cheques added up to more money than he made in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons combined.

The new home environment and return to an old coach has certainly been a positive move.

Michael says that his short term goal is ‘to get back into the top 50 Official World Golf Rankings, so I can play in the Majors’.

And long term he wants to be winning on the European Tour.

Judging by his life changes and recent form it would be a brave man to say he couldn’t do it!

Last week I was congratulating Michael on his recent form and new ranking and he replied ‘only another 200 odd to go’.

Being the encouraging type I proposed a bet for him. If he cracked the Top 100 in the next 12 months the Moet was on me. Naturally he jumped at it and said ‘only if it’s Pink Moet’.

So it looks like I could be out of pocket $100 on the 23rd November 2013. Let’s just hope I get a sip!

His next tournament will be the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia on 13th-16th December.

Cambo is one of the good guys in golf and I am sure that everyone will be right behind him as he continues climbing back up that ladder to where he still belongs.

 

You can follow Michael Campbell on twitter @m_cambo.

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