By Gary Caffell
Ben Campbell isn’t about to dwell on the tee shot which might have cost him the major spoils in the 2017 New Zealand Golf Open.
The 25-year-old from Masterton saw his hopes evaporate when his ball entered the water which surrounds the 18th green at Millbrook, Queenstown in the three-way playoff for the title with fellow Kiwi Michael Hendry and Australian Brad Kennedy, the latter having suffered the exact same fate as Campbell just a couple of minutes earlier.
That left Hendry, who played first after the random draw, with two putts from about five metres to secure the crown and he made no mistake.
Campbell admits he could have erred more on the side of safety with that crucial tee shot by aiming more for the middle of the green rather than the flag but is quick to add he would very probably do nothing different tactically-wise if he had the opportunity all over again.
“I knew a birdie would probably win it for me and that was the focus because these sort of chances don’t come along very often and you have to have a fair crack at them.
“I decided to aim for just to the right of the flag.
“I hit the ball solid and watching it fly I thought it was going to be pretty close but obviously I pulled it slightly and with the breeze also taking it left it bounced from the green into the water.
The distance was spot on, just a metre or two further to the right and it would have been a beauty . . . it was a bit gutting but that’s the way it goes.”
Reflecting on four rounds of golf which saw him set a course of 61, including nine birdies and one eagle, in the first of them, and eventually earned him the biggest pay day of his still fledging professional career, $NZ83,000, Campbell is typically frank in his appraisal.
“That first round was pretty special.
“I managed to make all 18 greens in regulation and dropped some handy putts.
“As a start you couldn’t really hope for much better.
“The rest of it though was a bit of a mix.
“I still managed to keep on the pace score-wise but there were a lot of little things which kept cropping up.
“My set up was a bit ordinary at times and the swing wasn’t always as good as I would have liked, there’s plenty of room for improvement.”
While Campbell is now based in Queenstown he is still very much a Masterton lad at heart and concedes he was “absolutely thrilled” at the huge number of messages of support he received from all over the Wairarapa as he set the Open pace.
“Masterton will always be home and I’m rapt to have given so many people up there a bit of excitement, it’s just a pity I didn’t manage to pull it off for them.
“I haven’t had the time to reply to all the messages yet but hopefully we’ll get that sorted over the next couple of days.
“I really appreciate them though, it’s always nice to know you have so many people cheering you on.”
Campbell’s next assignment is the Queensland Open this week and then he will take a three-week break which will include some coaching sessions to “tweak” his game and also a brief return to Masterton to meet up with family and friends.