Campbell, 2005 US Open champion, will not return to Pinehurst

ldecock@newsobserver.comMay 14, 2014 

SPORTS GLF-USOPEN 43 CH

Tiger Woods, left, congratulates Michael Campbell after Woods finished second to Campbell at the 2005 U.S. Open. Campbell is not playing in this year’s Open.

CHRISTOPHER A. RECORD — 2005 CHARLOTTE OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

Michael Campbell, who emerged from sectional qualifying to outlast Tiger Woods and win the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, will not return to defend his title.

In a statement on his website, cambogolf.com, Campbell said Wednesday that ankle and personal problems would keep him from playing. Campbell, 45, hasn’t won worldwide since September 2005 but has continued to play in the U.S. Open, making the cut only in 2007. He now lives in Marbella, Spain, where he runs a golf academy.

A brief resurgence in 2012 that saw him record two top-10 finishes on the European Tour, his first since 2008, has since fizzled. He has struggled with a tendon issue in his left ankle that kept him off the course this spring and has also separated from his wife of 18 years, the statement said.

“As I do not feel that I am either fully physically or mentally ready to play tournament golf at the highest level, after much deliberation, I have decided not to play in the BMW PGA Championship, the US Open or the events in between,” Campbell said in the statement. “I want to get back to my best and I believe this is the best strategy to achieve this.”

The New Zealander had burst briefly onto the golf scene at the 1995 British Open, leading after three rounds before giving way to John Daly. But he quickly receded back into the shadows, until playing his way into the U.S. Open in 2005 and winning a most unexpected title.

Campbell’s win sparked massive celebrations in New Zealand, and he remains a celebrity there. Lydia Ko, the 17-year-old LPGA Tour phenom from New Zealand, said Tuesday that an unexpected congratulatory phone call from Campbell was one of the highlights of her spring.

“It was just really exciting for me, someone of his profile,” Ko said. “I thought he got the wrong number.”

Campbell’s England-based agent had said last week that Campbell had entered the U.S. Open and expected to play. He remains exempt through next year’s U.S. Open in Chambers Bay, Wash.

DeCock: @LukeDeCock, 919-829-8947

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