Friday, 19 March 2010
Michael Campbell will spearhead a determined European Tour challenge for The Open Championship at St Andrews this week and, in the process, attempt to join one of golf's most exclusive clubs.

Only six players - Bobby Jones (1926 and 1930), Gene Sarazen (1932), Ben Hogan (1953), Lee Trevino (1971), Tom Watson (1982) and Tiger Woods (2000) - have won the US Open Championship and The Open in the same year, with Woods's moment of glory - following his US Open win at Pebble Beach - coming the last time The Open was played on the Old Course.

Now, following his memorable triumph in the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina four weeks ago, Campbell will attempt to bolster the group's number to a Magnificent Seven at the Home of Golf, giving further proof of the overall strength and vibrancy of The European Tour.

Although a proud New Zealander, Campbell's golfing roots are firmly embedded in Europe and, in the aftermath of his two shot triumph over Woods at Pinehurst, the 36 year old exhorted his fellow European Tour Members to follow in his footsteps.

"This is great for The European Tour and I hope it sends a message to all of the European Tour players; that you can win Major Championships not playing in America.

"I'm happy the way things are right now and the way my whole career is panning out. Why change things? My roots are here, I've been here for 12 years, and I enjoy playing The European Tour,” he said.

"Hopefully it is going to help guys like Clarke, Westwood, Poulter, Harrington, Montgomerie and McDowell, all of these great players who have won multiple titles around the world, to realise that if I can do it, then they can do it.

"These guys have seen me play for the last 12 years on this Tour. They have seen me miss cuts, lose my card and win golf tournaments, and I have seen them do the same. We are all close.

"There's a fine line between winning tournaments and winning Majors but these guys are very close. I'm very excited for The European Tour to have so many great players playing on a regular basis and therefore having the opportunity to win Majors."

The last European Tour Member to lift the Claret Jug was Ernie Els at Muirfield in 2002 when he emerged from a four-way play-off with Australians Stuart Appleby and Steve Elkington and Thomas Levet of France.
Els - European Tour Order of Merit winner in both 2003 and 2004 - had the chance to repeat the feat in last year's Open at Royal Troon, but on that occasion American Todd Hamilton won in a play-off.

As befits the greatest golf championship staged at the most famous course in the world, all of the game's top players will descend on St Andrews for The 134th Open, including, for the final time, one of the greatest of all, Jack Nicklaus.

The Golden Bear, winner of The Open twice at St Andrews (in 1970 and 1978) as well as at Muirfield in 1966, has publicly stated that this will be his last competitive appearance in a tournament he has graced for over 40 years and where, besides his three victories, he finished runner-up on seven other occasions.

Scotland has marked the occasion by commissioning a bank note in his honour and there will surely not be a dry eye in the packed grandstands around the 18th hole when Nicklaus takes his final bow on the Swilcan Bridge.

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