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Campbell: I missed my ‘A’ game


Ben Campbell prepares to play a shot on the notorious 17th hole on day two of The Open Championship. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

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Ben Campbell admits he didn’t bring his ‘A’ game to the 150th British Open Championship at St Andrews over the weekend.

The former Masterton golfer missed the cut at the ‘Home of Golf’ by an agonising one shot but wasn’t dwelling on it and was already planning for his next tournament.

On Sunday, Campbell headed for practice before intending to follow his good friend, Australian Cameron Smith, who went on to win the ‘Claret Jug’ with a score of 20 under par.

Smith sank six birdies for a score of 30 on the inward nine — the lowest by any champion in Open history.

Reflecting on his first start in a major tournament, Campbell believed he played solid enough, but the notorious 17th hole killed him on both days — a double bogey six in Thursday’s opening round and a bogey on Friday.

“I got off to not the greatest start on the first day and played well through the middle stretch, but missed a couple of birdies coming in and was sitting even par, and it felt like I should’ve been two or three under at that point, and to then double-bogey 17 — that really hurt,” said Campbell.

The 30-year-old started the second round confidently and was three under after 12 holes when a change of wind direction had a significant impact.

“We’d had the tough wind going out there the whole way, and because the course is straight out and straight back, you normally have one tough nine and one easy nine.

“I was playing well, and I had the easy nine coming home. I had driven the 12th green and birdied that and then when we were walking to the 13th, the wind just completely switched and started coming out of the left, and I thought ‘bugger’, it’s going to be a completely different back nine coming in.

“That hour when I was coming through those holes was probably the worst wind of the day.”

Adding to Campbell’s frustration was that he felt his swing over the final five holes was the best it had been during the tournament.

“It’s a bit of a tough one to swallow when you miss the cut at your first major by one shot, and I had so many chances coming in but unfortunately just hit it long on 17, and you just can’t hit it there.

“I was in the rough, and I thought I’d taken a club that there’s no way it could go long, but unfortunately it just kept running and running and just went over the back, and I then missed an eight-footer for par.

“It’s a brutal hole, and with the road over the back, it’s tough getting up and down.”

Campbell had a chance to birdie the 18th and sneak into the field for the final two days, but his putt from nine feet was high and missed, ending his first major.

Despite missing the cut, he felt there were plenty of positives he could take from the two days.

Campbell wasn’t lacking support, with two of his three major sponsors and 10 to 15 people from Masterton, including his father Brian, at St Andrews to cheer him on.

Campbell will now return to his Queenstown base for two weeks to prepare for the Asian Tour, with upcoming big money tournaments in Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea.

The New Zealand Open and the big events in Australia are also on Campbell’s radar, as long as they don’t clash with the Asian Tour.

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