Paul Lawrie hasn’t been alone in finding that being a major winner doesn’t necessarily open doors on the Champions Tour in America. Just ask Michael Campbell, the 2005 US Open champion. “I asked for 15 invites last year and got one,” said the Kiwi of the US-based over-50s circuit. “It means jack s*** being a major winner.”
The 51-year-old, who saw off Tiger Woods in his prime to claim that US Open victory at Pinehurst, was speaking after rolling back the years to card a three-under-par 68 in the first round of the Betfred British Masters at Close House.
“I’m completely flabbergasted,” admitted Campbell after an effort that contained six birdies, including one to start and another to finish, to sit just four shots behind the leader, David Law.
Campbell has not made a cut on the European Tour since 2013 as he struggled with a foot injury and loss of form, but this was one of those days to savour, especially with his 21-year-old son, Thomas, on the bag.
“My expectations were pretty much none,” he admitted of an effort that was two shots better than tournament host Lee Westwood at his home club. “I wanted to get out here and enjoy myself with Thomas. When I had my success from 1999 to 2005 he was only seven, so he can’t remember.
“I actually played really good and it could have been a lot better, but I’m happy with three under. Lucky enough the course is fast and firm, so you don’t have to hit it long here, which is an advantage for me. I’ve seen the kids playing out here, they hit it so far.
“This week it’s not a huge advantage, it’s about accuracy and putting your drives in the right positions, good iron play, distance control with your irons. I think I only missed three or four greens and hit it pretty close the whole time.
“It’s weird with no crowds, no clapping, but I think it worked to my advantage. You get used to it quickly but going out and playing today I was more relaxed. Maybe if there’s more people watching you might be more nervous.
“It’s my intention to play senior golf. I feel like I’m competing more there. I’ve had a good career the last 20 years, winning 15 times around the world, that’s good enough for me. If I have another one this week it’s a bonus.”
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