Michael Campbell’s comeback will be of much interest

By Paul Gueorgieff
Editor, Golfer Pacific NZ

It was this time last year that I wrote a column about Michael Campbell.

The former star New Zealand golfer had announced his intention to return to competition and the column highlighted just how lucrative it could be .

Campbell turns 50 next month which makes him eligible for the seniors’ tours in the United States and in Europe.

Last year he said he would play some main tour events in preparation for the seniors’ events. He wanted to hit the ground running the day he turned 50.

That hasn’t happened but it was great to read that he has confirmed the resumption of his career in next month’s New Zealand Open near Queenstown.

Campbell is a past New Zealand Open winner. To the delight of a home crowd, the Wellingtonian won the 2000 open when it was played at Paraparaumu Beach, north of Wellington.

He was second in the following two years at The Grange in Auckland in 2001 and when it returned to Paraparaumu Beach in 2002.

Could he win again 19 years later? Probably not. He will have the distraction of being the centre of attention in the tournament lead-up, he will not have played for more than three years and many of his rivals will be up to 30 years his junior.

But it will be very interesting to see how he performs. If he makes the cut it would be a case of very well done. If he doesn’t make the cut, all will not be lost. But with it will come the realisation of what is required to make it on the seniors’ tours.

Campbell’s victory in the 2005 United States Open means he can play on either of the senior circuits in the US or Europe. And there’s plenty of money to be won, especially in the US.

German golfer Bernhard Langer is the prime example. Last year he racked up $US2.2 million in prizemoney from what is now called the PGA Tour Champions. Let me put that in New Zealand dollars — $NZ3.28 million. Can you remember the last time you earned more than $3 million in a year?

Langer, 61, has literally made a fortune on the seniors’ tour.

Langer won $US3.6 million in 2017. In 2016 he won $US3 million. In 2015 he won $US2.3 million. In 2014 he won $US3 million. In 2013 it was $2.4 million. In 2012 it was $2.1 million.

He had a bad year in 2011 with only $650,000.

In 2010 it was $2.6 million. In 2009 it was $2.1 million. In 2008 it was $2 million.

They are truly astounding figures.

Nobody is expecting Campbell to replicate Langer but if he can get his game together he can make a very comfortable living.