Kiwi Campbell relishing first taste of Indiahttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/kiwi-campbell-relishing-first-taste-of-india/

Kiwi Campbell relishing first taste of India

If you think Michael Campbell is a spent force,wait for next year. New Zealand’s Major winner has an important piece of statistic for you.

If you think Michael Campbell is a spent force,wait for next year. New Zealand’s Major winner has an important piece of statistic for you. “I had my first good run at the British Open in 1995,I won six tournaments in 2000,the US Open title came in 2005,so 2010 should be a good year,” laughed the man who has been handed an invite to the Indian Open,and with it,the ticket of being its top draw. “I’ve always been a very ‘feel’ player,making either an 80 or a 63. That’s just how I play.”

In the drizzly afternoon at the DLF Golf & Country Club’s practice area on Tuesday,the 40-year-old was appropriately charming as he hit it up at the Skills Challenge along with some big Indian names,and one adopted one. Swede Daniel Chopra’s overall game won the prize for the two-man ‘International’ team,with Arjun Atwal clearly too jetlagged to make helpful contributions for his Indian team mate Gaganjeet Bhullar.

Campbell arrived to his first sample of the grainy,sloping greens,and another,more pleasing one — of ‘real’ Indian food. “I’m a big fan of Indian food,” Campbell said. “I love chicken tikka masala,but obviously that has been changed to suit the foreign palate. Here,you get the original taste,everything’s much spicier!”

Having struggled for a while now — he’s placed 252nd on the European Tour Order of Merit — Campbell would hope to find the course to his taste too. He doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration. “I remember watching Mark Brown win on this course last year (at the Johnnie Walker Classic),so I hope I can match him,” Campbell said. “I did hear a lot of good things from some of the European Tour guys who played here then. I was really excited about coming to India,even though it was a last-minute decision. I’ve always been interested in cultures,and I’d never been here. In fact,we wanted to make it a family trip,but that didn’t work out,” he said. “I do hope to sneak in a trip to the Taj Mahal though.”

There was something else he was left marvelling at on Tuesday. “I met two young kids at the practice green,10 years old and 13 years old,and I was just amazed by how early kids are making strides now,” he said. “One of them plays off a handicap of 11. When I was that young,I had a handicap of 32!”