November 14, 2006 – Michael Campbell believes tournaments like the UBS Hong Kong Open are helping to make golf truly global.
The New Zealand ace is delighted to see the sport breaking out of its traditional twin powerbases of Europe and the US and winning new fans the world over.
“Look what happened 40 years ago when the big three of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player came around the world, promoted the game and made golf what it is today,” said Campbell.
“Golf is heading in that direction now. It is a wonderful thing to have the top players in the world playing the game in all four corners of the world.
“It is very healthy to appeal to a broader range of people, from young to old and, more importantly, in different countries. Vietnam, for example, is finally picking up a few golf courses and hosting a tournament there.
“I believe we should spread ourselves around, not put all our eggs in one basket and I feel that is where the game is going right now.”
Campbell, one of the favourites for the UBS Hong Kong Open title, said he welcomed the chance to play outside Europe and the US.
“I enjoy sampling different cultures. For me, the PGA Tour [in the US] is pretty much the same old stuff every week. Same hotel room, same type of golf course, same speed of the greens, same bunkers, rough is the same. Monotony is not very nice in my life.
“I like a change. That’s why I spend six months in Australia and six months in England. My kids enjoy that and my wife enjoys that. We enjoy changes all the time.
“We travel a lot as journalists, golfers, caddies and officials and we enjoy spending time in different surroundings and environments.”
Campbell, the 2005 US Open champion, will be one of the favourites when the US$2 million UBS Hong Kong Open tees off on Thursday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling.
Joining him the line-up will be defending champion Colin Montgomerie, 2001 and 2004 US Open champion Retief Goosen and four-time PGA Tour winner KJ Choi.
Campbell said he was happy to be back at the event after finishing joint 10th three years ago.
“It’s a course I really enjoy playing and one that’s been around a long time. UBS has been a wonderful sponsor the last couple of years and once again they’ve brought together some wonderful players,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to taking on Retief, Monty, KJ and the rest of the guys.”