Campbell Not A Favorite To Win British Open
July 13, 2005
By Alex Miceli
St. Andrews, Scotland -- U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell isn't getting much respect this week at the 123rd British Open.
|The battle-tested Michael Campbell said winning the U.S. Open brought with it a new-found respect from peers. (John Mummert/USGA)|
Odds for a rare double, winning the U.S. and British Opens in the same year, were listed at 66 to 1 according to a local odds maker. The likes of Angel Cabrera, Tim Clark (last week's Scottish Open winner), Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Lee Westwood were assigned better odds than that.
Of course Campbell wasn't favored to come close to winning when he started the final round at Pinehurst. But a final-round 69 put him in the pantheon of Open winners, which no one can ever take away.
"A lot of players, caddies, friends of mine, and complete strangers come up to me and shake my hand and say, 'Well done,'" said Campbell. "It's kind of neat to have that respect from my fellow peers. I've been really enjoying that."
In his 10 previous appearances in the British Open, Campbell has had little success. However, in one isolated British Open in 1995, Campbell led through 54 holes at St. Andrews after shooting a 7-under-par 65 in the third round. His final round 76 dropped him into a tie for third and one shot out of a playoff, which was eventually won by John Daly.
"I remember standing on that first tee and I had no idea what I was doing, to be honest," said Campbell of that final round. "I nearly missed the fairway on the first hole. You know what that is, it's like a hundred yards wide and I missed it. My mind was racing a lot. I had no way of calming my nerves down. I had a lot of expectations on myself. I thought about consequences. I was too young. I wasn't ready to win. I was not ready to win a major."
Campbell was 26 at the time and playing in just his second British Open. While he had some success in Australia and on some smaller tours in Asia and America, he had never seen success on a larger stage.
Having turned professional in 1993, Campbell faltered under the pressure of winning a major. Three weeks ago the 36-year-old New Zealander entered the U.S. Open with a well-documented past that nearly included a divorce from golf. Something clicked inside. H was simply ready to win.
"I've seen tapes of it and I was pretty focused on that day, especially the last nine holes," said Campbell of this year's final round at the U.S. Open. "I knew that I had the best guy in the world [Tiger Woods] breathing down my neck and making a bit of a charge. But I sort of held him off with birdies on 12 and 17 and 10 -- 10, 12 and 17 it was. I'm proud. I look back right now, and looking at what I did three weeks ago. I was just so proud of what I did -- how I won, because it was my tournament to lose."
Now that's he won a major the argument could be made that he's always a threat going forward. He has a chance to prove that three weeks ago was more about a natural progression than a fluke, that he is finally living up to the accolades that were showered upon him as he burst on the scene in the early 1990s while being compared to a young Jack Nicklaus.
It's a position he relishes.
"I proved to a lot of people, my peers, that I'm there, I'm a serious player now," said Campbell. "I've been labeled as a major winner, so they respect me a lot more. But the most important thing is I proved to myself that I can do it. That's more important than anything else in the world. And I know that if I get to the same situation I can probably handle it quite well."
Maybe the odds are in his favor after all.
Alex Miceli is a free-lance writer whose work has appeared previously on www.usga.org.