Major Champion Michael Campbell believes his career is set for golden times again and has revealed an inspiring encounter with Great Britain’s greatest Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave, as the reason behind it.
New Zealander Campbell, who held off Tiger Woods to win the 2005 US Open, has suffered a slump in form over the past couple of seasons, making only one cut last year as a persistent shoulder injury contributed to his woes.
Now with his physical condition approaching normal once again, Campbell has made three successive cuts – finishing in a share of 19th in Morocco, 35th in Malaysia and 62nd in China – resulting in a more optimistic view of the season ahead.
The catalyst for that upturn was a conversation with five-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Redgrave, a man who knows all about pushing through the pain barrier and biding his time for another shot at success.
The pair shared a courtesy car last October during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, an event in which Redgrave regularly competes as an amateur, and for Campbell it proved an enlightening experience.
“Sir Steve Redgrave and I had a chat sharing a car together from Carnoustie to St Andrews, which is about 45minutes,” said Campbell. “It was very inspiring 45minutes talking to Steve. He’s great and very supportive.
“I’ve known Steve for a long time now, maybe six years. I always wanted to talk to him about my game and trying to get back to where I was.
“He had to wait every four years to win his gold medals so patience was his biggest issue. The thing I took from his conversation was once you’ve tasted it, once you’ve been there, you can do it again. There’s no reason why you can’t.
“He said, ‘Michael you’ve just got to work harder’. I’ve said it before, for me winning the US Open was like climbing Everest. His response was next time you try to do it, do it with no oxygen. I thought about it and thought that’s probably a good response. Those words stuck.
“Every week seems to be getting better for me. I didn’t finish it off in Malaysia, but the first round in China I played great from tee to green and putted better.
“It’s a snowball effect. I’m growing in confidence with each shot, each putt, each chip. You ask any athlete – confidence is not something you can buy from the corner store. You have to earn it.
“Definitely over the last three or four weeks it’s been that way. I’ve turned the corner now. I’m over that hump. It was a huge hump but I knew that if I worked hard and preserved I’d get there.
“Getting advice from people who have been there, like Sir Steve Redgrave, definitely helps.”
As well as Redgrave’s energising words, Campbell has also worked hard on his fitness, which had been a contributing factor to his decline in form on the course.
“I’ve been working hard in the gym – I’ve got a full time instructor now,” said the 42 year old. “A couple of years ago my shoulder gave me problems and that is all good now.
“I’m always going to have pain in my shoulder – it won’t ever be 100 per cent – but that’s why I’ve hired a full time fitness instructor, to help me with it.
“So I’m working hard on my fitness and mental game. There’s a huge shift for me right now towards playing better golf.”
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