May 2, 2015 / 3:43 AM / 3 years ago

Former U.S. Open champion Campbell to retire

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealander Michael Campbell, who famously held off Tiger Woods to win the 2005 U.S. Open, has decided to retire from professional golf at the age of 46 because he has lost the motivation to play.

Campbell followed his major victory with a tie for fifth at the British Open and a tie for sixth at the PGA Championship in the same year.

Campbell won 15 tournaments over his career, most of which was spent on the European Tour, but his last title came when he won the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth a few months after his Pinehurst triumph.

“All of my friends who are the same age as me are still out there competing and doing well,” he told New Zealand’s Radio Sport on Saturday.

”It makes you wonder maybe I should go back and play but right now I have got no motivation to play. I have played golf for almost 40 years and that is a long time. I have played professionally for 20 years and that is a long time.

“I have no complaints to walk away from the game that has given me such a wonderful life but it’s been a very hard decision.”

Campbell said his recent divorce and struggles with injury had helped him decide to put competitive golf on hold and concentrate on his academies in Spain until he is 50 and qualifies to play senior tournaments.

“It gave me time to reflect on my career and I decided to put golf on the backburner right now and just focus on other things,” Campbell added.

His major triumph a decade ago was only the second for a New Zealander after Bob Charles won the British Open at Lytham & St Annes in 1963.

”Obviously 10 years ago was something special for me and for the country and for golf itself,“ Campbell added. ”I fulfilled one of my dreams to win a major and it was fantastic.

“But as everyone knows, it has been well documented, my career since then hasn’t been great. But if I walk away from the game right now, I could be very proud of my achievements.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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