82nd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship
Credit: Montana Pritchard/PGA of America/PGA

Michael Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion from New Zealand, spent eight years away from playing golf. But his plan was always to play again once he turned 50, which he turned in February 2019.

2005 U.S. Open - Final Round
Michael Campbell walks up the 18th fairway during the final round of the 2005 U.S. Open Golf Championship at Pinehurst Resort course 2 in Pinehurst, North Carolina on June 19, 2005. (Photo by S. Badz/Getty Images)
Credit: Getty Images

Then COVID-19 hit, and only now, at 53, is Campbell getting started. The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship marked his second event since 2020. Campbell hadn’t been totally away from the game, as he has kept a hand in broadcasting. But as he ramped up to play again, and has done a few podcasts talking about his career – seven European Tour victories to go with his U.S. Open – it has sparked some terrific memories.

“It made me appreciate what I’ve done more, and how much I appreciate the game,” he said. “I missed the game. I missed being out there competing. I love competing against the best players in the world, and that’s something that was missing.”

80th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship
ROCHESTER, NY - May 24: Michael Campbell of New Zealand hits his tee shot on the 13th hole during the second round for the 80th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship held at Oak Hill Country Club on May 24, 2019 in Rochester, New York. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America via Getty images
Credit: PGA

Campbell was one of 77 players exempt into the upcoming U.S. Senior Open to be played at Saucon Valley. Time away from playing gave him an opportunity to give back to the game that had given Campbell so much.

“I have my golf academy in southern Spain, and I’ve enjoyed that, and giving back,” he said. “I’ve been there for 10 years, but now it’s time to be a bit more selfish and enjoy playing these tournaments.”

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