Golf: Kiwi Michael Campbell has no regrets after post-US Open decline

Kiwi golfing legend Michael Campbell makes no apologies for way his career declined after winning the US Open.

"I climbed my Everest," he has told The AM Show. "You can't go higher than Everest, can you?"

Fifteen years ago, Campbell staved off the challenge of superstar Tiger Woods at Pinehurst Resort to capture the silverware and US$1.17 million in prizemoney.

Later that same year, he took out the world matchplay championship, beating Irishman Paul McGinley in the final, but those performance marked the pinnacle of a career that ended  10 years later with no more US or European tour wins.

"I can't believe 15 years has gone so fast," he says. "I have flashes about Tiger, about winning my first Major and being the first Māori to win a Major... that's pretty cool.

"It started when I was 13 years old. I had a dream to win a Major... I had a very strong 'why', you could say.

"I wanted to prove to the world that Māori could play golf.

"I wasn't there to win money or kiss trophies... I wanted to win tournaments. That was my 'why' as well."

Campbell admits he didn't fully capitalise on his achievement, flying back to New Zealand soon afterwards to share his moment of glory with the nation.

"My manager said to me at the time, 'are you crazy?' No, I wanted to share my success with my people... for all New Zealanders.

'If I can do it, so can you."

Michael Campbell & Tiger Woods
Michael Campbell & Tiger Woods. Photo credit: Photosport

Before his US triumph, Campbell had helped New Zealand win the Eisenhower Trophy - the amateur world teams championship - and led the 1995 British Open Championship in the third round, before fading to third.

He won the NZ Open and eight titles on the European Tour, before joining Sir Bob Charles as the only Kiwis to win Major golf championships. The victory saw him win a second Halberg Award, but he found success hard to come by afterwards.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," he has told The AM Show. "I didn't reset my goals - I had achieved what I wanted to achieve.

"If I look back now on my career, I'm happy. It was a pretty good career."

Campbell, now 51, lives in Spain, running a golf academy and is attempting a comeback to play on the PGA Senior Tour.

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