Campbell the crusader

The Open: Rookie New Zealander takes the Old Course by storm as champion rages at the R & A
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The Independent Online
THE rookie New Zealander Michael Campbell made a brilliant assault on the stubborn defences of the Old Course yesterday, and his 65 sends him striding confidently into today's final round. But the reigning Open champion, Nick Price, who is seven shots behind, believes that his chances of keeping the title were destroyed long before Campbell was blasting the hole through which others failed miserably to follow.

Price traces his downfall to being sent out late in the second round on Friday, in which he took five and a half cold and windy hours to produce the 74 that virtually killed off his retention bid. "I was really hurt to be sent out at 3.25pm," he said. "When you are defending champion, you don't expect to finish at nine o'clock at night. My 74 was made in the worst conditions, and those lost shots could have cost me the championship."

Pointing out that in America the leading players have the prime tee-off time, Price was speaking after completing yesterday's round with a 70 that places him on the outer fringes of today's last charge, and even as he spoke, Campbell was making mincemeat of an outward nine that had repulsed all the overnight leaders. His bogey-free round was made up of an astounding 32 for the front nine, which on a sunny day of crystal clarity was made extremely difficult by a head-on westerly, and a returning 33 made, possibly, by the bunker shot of the century.

Ironically, Campbell had followed Price out on Friday afternoon, and he was very pleased with a round of 71 in those debilitating circumstances. Yesterday, however, the 25-year-old Maori who has been building a rapid reputation in his first season on the European Tour played in a manner that he could only describe as "unbelievable". Witnesses who had waited three days for someone to give the Old Course a fight were not as restrained in their compliments.

The Scots have already registered a parental claim on the appealing young man who has made his British base with friends in Tooting, south London. Campbell's great-great-great-great grandfather, Logan Campbell, left Edinburgh for New Zealand in 1854, married a Maori woman, became mayor of Auckland and was knighted - titles that all seem in the scope of Logan's ascendant.

Campbell, who as an amateur in 1992 was a member of the New Zealand team that won the Eisenhower Trophy, was encouraged to come to Europe to further his golfing education. Last year he competed on the second-rank Challenge Trophy circuit on which he won three events to clinch his Tour card this year. He finished third and fourth in the Desert Classic and the Asian Classic, earning pounds 50,000 in his first two events.

Wearing red socks in support of the New Zealand America's Cup yacht, he figured highly in the Volvo PGA and the Irish and Scottish Opens. He puts his progress down to be being a lot tougher mentally and physically since he knuckled down to the European Tour.

His basic ingredients are a natural skill and a cool, measuring mind, and these were displayed spectacularly on the 17th hole. The Road has damaged everyone is some shape or other over the past three days, and when Campbell's second shot rolled into the dreaded greenside bunker less than a foot from the face, it seemed a potentially great round was about to come to an end.

Men have taken four to escape from easier positions. At least Campbell didn't have many option to consider. There was no way out to the right, the left or even backwards. He could have taken a drop, but the ball would have plugged in the soft sand. He went for the almost vertical shot. For a second he thought the ball was going to bounce back from the lip, but it flipped over the edge to finish 18 inches from the hole.

It was a master shot and brought the Press centre to its feet in a spontaneous reaction only free drinks can normally engender. "I could have lost three or four shots," Campbell said. "Someone up there is smiling down at me at the moment."

At the moment Campbell walked off the 18th green, he was four shots ahead of his nearest rival. The sight put some life at last into the bunched leaderboard, who had a very sluggish and uninspiring start to their rounds. There was a slender British attempt to mount a charge. Barry Lane produced a commendable 68, while of the others, only Sam Torrance improved his overnight score.

Nick Faldo, given a rose by a female admirer who ran on to the course, did not prove worthy of such gallantry. His 75 put him out of the picture, a fate suffered also by David Gilford. Ian Woosnam said nothing after his 76, but gave his putter to the female scorer, who will be lucky to get a good price for it.

Costantino Rocca looked at one time to be getting close to Campbell, but missed an 18-inch putt on the 16th to fall back two shots behind the leader. Steve Elkington is a shot further back, and on five under are Tomori, Daly, Pavin and Els, who had nothing to be proud of.

Price will not be consoled by the Royal & Ancient's reply to his grievance. A draw is a draw, they said. He also complained that his picture was not on the front of the Open programme as the reigning champion's is normally. Next time he wins, it will definitely be there, they said. That is being very nasty to a nice fellow.

Open reports, page 3

Complete third-round scores

(GB or Irl unless stated;

* denotes amateur)

207

M Campbell (NZ) 71 71 65

209

C Rocca (It) 69 70 70

210

S Elkington (Aus) 72 69 69

211

C Pavin (US) 69 70 72

E Els (SA) 71 68 72

K Tomori (Japan) 70 68 73

J Daly (US) 67 71 73

212

S Torrance 71 70 71

M Brooks (US) 70 69 73

213

B Lane 72 73 68

B Ogle (Aus) 73 69 71

T Watson (US) 67 76 70

B Estes (US) 72 70 71

V Singh (Fiji) 68 72 73

B Faxon (US) 71 67 75

214

N Price (Zim) 70 74 70

D Feherty 68 75 71

S Bottomley 70 72 72

B Glasson (US) 68 74 72

J Cook (US) 69 70 75

215

M James 72 75 68

P-U Johansson (Swe) 69 78 68

M Calcavecchia (US) 71 72 72

*G Sherry 70 71 74

P Stewart (US) 72 68 75

B Crenshaw (US) 67 72 76

216

J Parnevik (Swe) 75 71 70

D Clarke 69 77 70

D Duval (US) 71 75 70

R Allenby (Aus) 71 74 71

B Langer (Ger) 72 71 73

B Watts (US) 72 71 73

K Green (US) 71 72 73

*S Webster 70 72 74

D Gilford 69 72 75

N Faldo 74 67 75

217

P Jacobsen (US) 71 76 70

L Janzen (US) 73 73 71

B Claar (US) 71 75 71

G Norman (Aus) 71 74 72

*T Woods (US) 74 71 72

J Huston (US) 71 74 72

H Sasaki (Japan) 74 71 72

T Nakajima (Japan) 73 72 72

M McNulty (Zim) 67 76 74

J Rivero (Sp) 70 72 75

W Riley (Aus) 70 72 75

G Sauers (US) 69 73 75

J Leonard (US) 73 67 77

218

J Haas (US) 76 72 70

P Mitchell 73 74 71

R Floyd (US) 72 74 72

M Gates 73 73 72

G Hallberg (US) 72 74 72

P Lawrie 73 71 74

P O'Malley (Aus) 71 73 74

J M Olazabal (Sp) 72 72 74

P Mickelson (US) 70 71 77

219

T Kite (US) 72 76 71

W Bennett 72 74 73

E Herrera (Col) 74 72 73

S Hoch (US) 74 72 73

S Lowery (US) 69 74 76

R Drummond 74 68 77

220

E Romero (Arg) 74 74 72

B Longmuir 72 76 72

J Delsing (US) 72 75 73

O Karlsson (Swe) 71 76 73

J Gallagher Jnr (US) 69 76 75

221

D Cooper 71 76 74

P Broadhurst 73 72 76

I Woosnam 71 74 76

M Davis 74 71 76

G Player (SA) 71 73 77

S Lyle 71 71 79

F Nobilo (NZ) 70 71 80

222

D Love III (US) 70 78 74

J Lomas 74 73 75

J Hawksworth 73 74 75

223

S Burnell 72 76 75

J Sandelin (Swe) 75 71 77

J Maggert (US) 75 70 78

B Lohr (US) 76 68 79

224

M A Jimenez (Sp) 75 73 76

P Linhart (Sp) 72 75 77

P Senior (Aus) 71 75 78

225

J Nicklaus (US) 78 70 77

P Burke (US) 75 72 78

J Coceres (Arg) 71 76 78

P Baker 70 74 81

L Westwood 71 72 82

227

D Pooley (US) 76 71 80

*G Clark 71 76 80

228

R Kawagashi (Japan) 72 76 80

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