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Campbell aiming for New Zealand Open glory

Ben Campbell on his way to a third in the Fiji International last year. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

GOLF

ELI HILL
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Ben Campbell is “in a good space” going into the 100th New Zealand Open starting in Queenstown on February 28.

The Masterton golfer is coming off a successful World Super 6 in Perth last week, where he reached the quarter-finals, and said he will look to stamp his mark on the tournament he finished second in two years ago.

“Winning it is a goal for me, this is my third season back and I’m feeling good physically,” he said.

“I have a good team in Queenstown and I’ll even get to sleep in my bed the night before.”

The PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour event takes place at the Millbrook Resort and The Hills Golf Course, close to Campbell’s Queenstown home, with a field of 152 players.

Since recovering from a mystery illness three years ago, Campbell has been in good form, claiming third in the Fiji International last year and taking out the New Zealand PGA last year, an event he’ll look to defend in March.

“It’s been probably the greatest win for me,” he said.

“It isn’t the biggest, or the most prize money, but my parents and family were there and I had about 10 mates on the golf course.

“It felt like everyone who’d supported me on my journey was there to see it happen.”

Over the weekend Campbell made it to the quarter-finals of the World Super 6 at the Lake Karrinyup golf course in Perth. He was knocked out by Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent.

Fellow Kiwi Ryan Fox went on to win the tournament.

Campbell said he’s been putting in the time at the range to ensure his game is top notch.

“My irons are pretty solid so I’m just working on getting my driving a little straighter and getting a few more putts in there.

“Mostly I’m doing it nine to five, hitting the gym and just working on the course.”

In addition to training, Campbell has also put a focus on his health.

“It’s a really important factor in golf because you’re doing the same actions over and over again, any little niggles you get can quickly become something bigger.

“It’s all sort of come together and I’m in a really good space.”

A win in Queenstown would be a step toward the 27-year-old’s ultimate goal of a spot in the US Open.

“That’s where the best are and I want to test myself against them – to see just how far my game can go,” Campbell said.

“I think it’s definitely possible. Plenty of the people I played with growing up are there, I just have to keep doing the hard work and we’ll see what happens.”

Campbell will be up against stiff competition in the NZ Open. Along with Fox, two of the most successful golfers to come out of Korea – KJ Choi and YE Yang – have been confirmed in the field.

Choi is one of the top 25 players on the PGA’s all-time money-list with earnings of more than $NZ50 million in prize money.

He has 20 professional victories worldwide to his credit, winning eight times on the PGA tour, including the 2011 Players’ Championship.

Also taking to the course will be Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who won last month’s Singapore Open and 2016 NZ Open winner Matthew Griffin.

2005 US Open Champion Kiwi Michael Campbell, and 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, of Australia, will also start.

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