NEW ZEALAND golfer Michael Campbell cut a forlorn figure as he left the 18th green yesterday.
He said he enjoyed the course and the hospitality of the Kingdom.
But unfortunately he couldn’t say the same for his golf game.
Once upon a time Ireland was a happy hunting ground for Campbell. In 2002 he claimed the Smurfit European Open, and then 12 months later collected the Nissan Irish Open in Portmarnock after becoming something of a crowd favourite over the four days.
Greater glory was to come. When he won the US Open in 2005 the golfing world was his oyster. But then, as quickly as they arrived, the glory days began to disappear.
Recent history doesn’t make for pleasant viewing. He finished on 20 over at the Masters, and managed one better at the US Open. Indeed he arrived at Pebble Beach, having shot 80 or higher in nine of the 15 competitive rounds he completed in 2010. The breakthrough tournament is still in the future after he again failed to make the cut this weekend. And so a nine-month wait rumbles on.
In the company of Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth and Spaniard Pablo, ‘Cambo’ recorded rounds of 72 and 77. He was just a stroke over par starting out, and was in a good position to add another competitive 18 holes.
But it wasn’t to be as he was forced to endure a frustrating few hours.
“It was just one of those days when putts didn’t drop early on and then I put pressure on my game for the rest of the round,” he said. “On the third I miscued my tee shot into the water and ended up with a six.”
That glitch at the par three proved something of a turning point in the round. Although he regrouped well, he couldn’t find any birdies before the turn.
Although that treble bogey turned out to be his only blemish on the front nine, he dropped further shots on 11, 13 and 16. All the while Ross Fisher was burning up the course firing 10 birdies. Campbell wasn’t surprised with the scoring and was again left to wonder ‘what if.’
“His score is fantastic, obviously Ross is playing great golf. He is a great golfer and 10 under today (Friday) is a great score,” Campbell said. “The course was pretty benign in the morning and it was certainly there for the taking, and he took most of it.”
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