Following his official return to professional golf at the 100th New Zealand Open in Queenstown last week, New Zealand golfing star Michael Campbell turns his focus to the SEC NZ PGA Championship at Pegasus Golf and Sports Club in the tournament’s first staging at the Christchurch course.
The 2005 U.S. Open Champion makes his first appearance at the SEC NZ PGA Championship in 2019, a tournament he is pleased to add to the list.
“I can’t believe it’s my first time here,” said Campbell.
“I’ve been wracking my memory and it’s the first time; I’ve actually never played here which is a bit of a shame but now I’m back into the mode of playing and playing the Seniors Tour, there’s no better way of playing tournaments.”
“It’s my first time at this course and first time at the New Zealand PGA,” he added. “There are a lot of firsts this weekend.”
Taking advantage of opportunities on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia to get back into the swing of things ahead of his debut on the Seniors Tour, Campbell says his preparations remain the same no matter where he’s playing.
“It’s the same preparation as always for me,” said the 50-year-old.
“Like in every tournament I’ve played in in the past, I just want to go out there and perform the best I can for this week and whether I play well or not, I’m not really worried about it to be honest.
“I’m looking at the big picture which for me is to focus on the Seniors Tour which is coming up in a couple of month’s time.
“These tournaments for me are a good opportunity to warm up the engine, get out there and enjoy playing golf again.”
While excited by his return, six years away from the course has left some rust for Campbell who is happy to be back amongst the action.
“I’ve got a few things to work on,” said Campbell. “I’m a little bit rusty around the edges you could say.”
“It showed up in my game a lot during the first two rounds at the New Zealand Open.
“It’s all about getting back on the horse again and riding and it’s like riding a bike, really.
“I haven’t ridden this bike for a long time, six years, so there’s nothing better than putting a scorecard in your back pocket and going out there and doing it.
“I just want to get out there and enjoy competing again.”
Thoroughly enjoying his return to the professional ranks at the NZ Open, Campbell labels the tournament as a success despite missing the cut in Queenstown.
“I had a lot of fun,” he said. “I really enjoyed the pressure and the anxiety."
“It probably sounds crazy but I think most players when they haven’t played for a long time felt what I felt on the first tee.
“It was nerve wracking and all of those wonderful things but it was great to be back out on the course and especially being home and playing in the centenary of the New Zealand Open.”
Campbell will not only have the support of locals when making his NZ PGA Championship debut this week but also family members making the trip to see him play.
“I’ve got my dad and my sister coming down,” Campbell added. “I’ve got a couple of cousins and my fiancé as well so it’ll be nice to play in front of them.”
The SEC NZ PGA Championship is being played at Pegasus Golf and Sports Club from 7 – 10 March, 2019.
Tee times are available at pga.org.au. Campbell tees off Thursday in the first round at 8.15am off the 10th tee in the marquee group with Michael Hendry and Brad Kennedy.
Entry to Pegasus Golf and Sports Club is free all week to the public.