Former champion Campbell to watch US Open from TV studio

Mon Jun 9, 2014 4:06pm EDT
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By Andrew Both

PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Michael Campbell will watch this year's U.S. Open half a world away, working as a TV commentator in a Singapore studio nine years after his stirring victory at Pinehurst No. 2.

An ankle injury will keep the New Zealander from "defending" his crown this week at the North Carolina course where he proved the only contender capable of going toe-to-toe with runner-up Tiger Woods in the final round in 2005.

It was a result that probably shocked many in attendance, but not those who had followed the talented Kiwi's career, including his then-caddie Mike "Sponge" Waite.

"Cambo was usually pretty good under the pump," Waite told Reuters on Monday, using the friendly moniker by which Campbell is known. "He was pretty focused the whole round, just trying to beat the golf course."

Waite recalls just one moment when the pressure of the occasion got to Campbell. That was on the 18th tee, after he had rolled in a lengthy birdie at the par-three 17th to all but ensure victory, barring a disaster at the par-four 18th.

"He said 'I'm struggling here, give me a good target.' He would have known he had a three-shot lead and I think he finally realized he was going to win but he quickly knuckled down and focused on his drive."

A tap-in bogey gave Campbell a round of 69 and a two-shot win over Woods, much to the delight of a small contingent of Kiwis in the gallery, including cricket great Martin Crowe.

As composed as Campbell remained throughout the final round, Waite says there was a period while waiting on the 15th tee that potentially could have been a problem, if not for the kindness of fellow competitor Olin Browne.   Continued...