x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Michael Campbell can smile his way back to success

The golfer from New Zealand seems to be making a strong comeback after injury set his career back.

Michael Campbell has placed three top-15s since July. Francisco Seco / AP Photo
Michael Campbell has placed three top-15s since July. Francisco Seco / AP Photo

While golf's heavyweights played last week for a nauseating Turkish bounty, it was refreshing to see Michael Campbell, the troubled New Zealander, finally given reason to flash that infectious smile at the Portugal Masters.

The 43 year old's backstory is well travelled: the 54-hole lead as a relative unknown at the 1995 British Open – he would finish tied-third – conqueror of Tiger Woods 10 years later at the US Open, yet since the beginning of 2006 a career trajectory that could be described only as "plummeting".

The numbers make for miserable reading. In 168 starts during the past six years, Campbell has missed the cut or withdrawn from an event 106 times, with only 13 top-10 finishes. He was ranked 13th in the world in March 2006, yet by October 2010 had plunged 1318 places.

Injuries have played a big role in his slump, as did his desire to chase appearance fees across the globe in the immediately aftermath of his major triumph. However, he has largely remained approachable and receptive to inquisition; one of the game's true gentlemen.

So his recent renaissance – Campbell finished third in Portugal and has now posted three top-15s since July – provides a certain cheer when golf welcomes a period of dizzying purses.

Campbell, now based back in Europe after time in Australia, is not the only golfer to feel the game's cruel hand, but his contagious beam has returned.

Hopefully he no longer has to grin and bear it.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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