When the players finished their final round at last weekend's
BMW Masters at the Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, they
walked along a stretch of grass to take interview requests
from journalists or sign autographs for fans.
Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal was swamped and posed for
numerous photos and even English pro Simon Dyson - who? -
received an exuberant reception and was politely asked to
scribble his name on to hats.
Eventually, a Kiwi bloke walked down the stairs having signed
for a final round of 69, which eventually took him to a share
of 30th and a cheque for £45,776.18, and he walked past to
Heck, this is the same bloke who once held off Tiger Woods
down the stretch to win the 2005 US Open.
He barely fielded a request for an autograph, which was
indicative of how far Michael Campbell has fallen in recent
You know the story. Rounds in the 80s, missed cuts and people
questioning why he doesn't just give the game up.
There was some merit in the suggestion. Campbell made only
three cuts from 20 starts and banked a mere €13,576 on the
European Tour in 2010.
In one particularly bad period he also missed 69 cuts in 90
But things have turned around in the past few months, and the
43-year-old even claimed third place and a 140,850 euro
payday at the Portugal Masters three weeks ago.
It was more money than he had earned on the European Tour in
2009, 2010 and 2011 combined, and his highest finish since he
tied for third in the British Masters in September 2008.
Campbell insists there has been no magic bullet for his mini
career revival, but it's been a collection of things that
have finally given him the right recipe.
His family have moved to southern Spain, and he is settled
away from the course. He has also renewed his ties with coach
Campbell was planning to move his family to Switzerland at
the start of the year but there was an issue getting a
resident's permit so Marbella won out.
"It's a great climate," Campbell says. "It's very similar to
Australia. The weather there is fantastic and we live on a
golf course so it's great for me to practice.
"I practice pretty much every second day now on a week off.
Generally, I wouldn't do that previously. That's what has
really helped me, I think, with my form over the last couple
of months. It's a combination of seeing my coach again and
"We had a separation for three years and I thought the grass
was greener but it's not, so I came back to him in June this
year and ever since then I've had a really good last three
Campbell, who has earned more than 11 million euro on the
European Tour since 1994, said there had been times during
the past couple of years when he thought about giving up, but
his desire to succeed came through.
"Inside of me, I just know that I'm not a quitter. I don't
quit, simple as that. I've worked very hard and I knew it was
still in there somewhere but needed to be peeled back, like
an onion. There are lots of layers there and I've finally
found something that's working. A combination of my coach and
Clearly Campbell is more content away from the greens and,
given that golf puts such a high strain on a player's mental
toughness, you get the feeling his settled home life is a
major factor in his form spike.
"It's been a very disjointed last seven years," Campbell
admits. "For three years I was travelling back and forth from
Australia to the European Tour seven times a year, and I'm no
spring chicken. I can't do that anymore. Whether you're at
the pointy end of the plane in first-class, it's still tough
on your body and mind.
"I suppose for five years it's been a tough road, personally
with the family and all the moving around. It's tough for the
kids. They've been to three different schools in three years
so it was very unsettling for everyone."
Aside from Campbell's positive results in Shanghai and
Portugal, he also made the cut at the Alfred Dunhill Links
Championship and Omega European Masters recently and sits
80th on the Race to Dubai standings.
The top 60 players qualify for the season-ending tournament
in Dubai later this month and Campbell will need to earn
another decent-sized cheque in the next couple of weeks to
make the cash-rich event, but his recent play has shown he's
capable of doing this.
Campbell, however, has his sights set much higher.
"I want to get back in the top 15 in the world, play all the
majors," he says. "It's amazing how one week can change your
whole mind mentally.
"My goals are now getting higher and higher, which is great,
but the most important thing is having fun out there. That's
one thing, I've been working with a guy who's said to me,
'just enjoy it, it's only a game of golf'. I think sometimes
in the past I've put too much importance on results. My
expectations were too high as well."
If he continues to enjoy himself on course and the results
keep flowing he might have to stop and sign a few more
- Daniel Richardson flew to Shanghai courtesy of Air New