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May 17, 2006

Michael Campbell


GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome to another glorious day of Irish sunshine, just what you're used to.

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Last year was horrendous.

GORDON SIMPSON: Last week you were right in the thick of things, didn't quite knock it off. How about this week, do you think your game's ready to do that?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Hopefully yes. I had a bit of a hiccup on Sunday. It was nice to play three good rounds before Sunday. Obviously Paul and I were very disappointed we didn't finish it off. I was quite pleased how I played the last probably four or five holes and had a chance to tie with Johan, but wasn't good enough. But that's golf for you.

In the big picture, I've got another three weeks, four weeks before I defend my title at Winged Foot. I'm still following my own footsteps from last year you could say. The next ten years I'm exempt from pre qualifying which is kind of nice. It's amazing how I'm following my own footsteps from last year. I recall I think last year I finished third or fourth in the British Masters; I finished fifth this time.

You know, Jonathan (Yarwood) - my coach - and I, we're very pleased with my progress, my swing and other things. So I remember coming here for the first time last year one thing you have to realise, guys, we don't come here for the weather; we come for the golf and the Guinness. I've prepared myself mentally that it's going to rain or blow or be cold for the next four days here in Ireland. It's the same for everybody else. It's going to be, once again, a very long, long four days out there.

GORDON SIMPSON: Is that what you set out at start of the year, try to replicate everything you've done as near as you could?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Kind of yeah, Gordon, kind of. I said last week, I tried to have a lot of time off at the start of the year, which I did because I was pretty much sick of golf by end of last year. Now I'm ready to go again.

Obviously it's a different situation than 12 months ago. But I'm finding that my form once again; it's is coming back to where it should be, and that's competing and winning golf tournaments.

Q. Can you tell us how you prepare yourself mentally for rain

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Kind of, yeah, I think we well, I do, anyway. I go out there in practice rounds and Pro Ams, and raining today, it's probably a good preparation in the Pro Am, good preparation for next four days, and to make sure that your waterproofs are working properly, making sure there's no leaks in your waterproofs, prepare the golf bags, that there are plenty of towels in the golf bag, just see how far the ball is going is very, very important.

Obviously probably it will be a club longer out there, maybe two clubs because there's no run on the ball. Those sort of things are very important to prepare for wet and cold, windy conditions, and today, playing the Pro Am is obviously a good way to see the course for the final time, but at least it gets you into the frame of mind of holding the umbrella, as well.

So I'm just trying to hopefully do my homework today and come out tomorrow prepared.

Q. Can you recall for us your memories of your two wins in Ireland, the European Open and the Irish Open?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: They were great. (Laughing).

Nothing can replace the winning feeling, nothing at all in this game of golf. And I recall my first win in Ireland was the European Open about four years ago, five years ago maybe five years ago. We had Padraig Harrington and I, we were pretty much neck and neck no, I was five ahead with five to play.

You know, I was like five shots ahead with five holes to play and tried to give it away to Padraig and managed to pip him on the last hole. In 2003 I think it was the Irish Open at Portmarnock, I won in a playoff against Thomas Björn and Peter Hedblom. I think it's one of the finest golf courses I ever played in my life is Portmarnock. Hit driver, 8 iron on the last hole to a foot, so it was nice to finish that way.

Q. Finishing so well last week after such a long break, how much does that make it easier to focus coming back?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: It makes the whole focus a lot better. We worked very hard last week on my game, it's nice to put it under the gun and see it not completely work out, but it's getting there. We've been talking since Sunday and how you still it's a long way to go. It's nice to think that I can improve so much on my short game, my long game, everything about my game of golf right now can be improved by 20 percent in each department in chipping and putting or long off the tee or mentally or whatever it is.

I can see a lot of improvement, which is quite a wonderful feeling that I can go out there last week and play with my 'B' game, really and have a chance to win, because I've seen all the top players in the world go out and play, play with their B game and still win tournaments. That's one thing that I've learned a lot. I've played with Phil Mickelson I think three weeks before he won Augusta and saw that he wasn't playing great but good enough to win a major.

So it was a real learning experience for me to see Phil play that way yet still win a major. He obviously played better the week of Augusta. But two weeks before, he wasn't playing that great and still turned things around. So that's one thing that players at our level, week learn off each other.

Q. Are you in shape for your defence of the US Open?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Pretty much. But most important thing I'm trying to do is not defend my title; it's to win it. I suppose it's that mental mind set where you think of defending your title to me personally it's like having an offensive team and a defensive team. In American football, a defensive team has to protect their goal line and to me being on the defensive is being it's not how to play golf. I play golf by being pretty aggressive. So when I get to Winged Foot in another four weeks time I'm going to go out and try to win it, not defend it.

Q. You said you were sick of golf - do you mean on or off the course?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: I think I found it more busy off the golf course than on the golf course. The golf course ended up being my sanctuary away from everybody. It's very time consuming off the golf course with other things going on, you know, with other activities. I'm sure my manager, Adrian (Mitchell), has been through a lot. He's shown me, we talk every night, every day, about commitments to corporate days to guest speaking to everything.

It's amazing how busy it is after being a major winner. It's all about time management. You have to say no a lot, and I felt mentally drained because of people just wanting to have a piece of you. But it's all comes part of the package, part of the parcel and that's just the way it is. Now I've learned to say no to people which is quite hard. My nature is really to say yes to everybody, but now, if I never say no, otherwise I'll lose my scruples. But yeah, I've learned a lot over the last 12 months.

Q. Is it quieter now?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Well, no. It's getting closer. Everyone has their own deadlines with TV and magazines and stuff. So the last month or so has been very, very busy with that sort of stuff. Like the week of the Open, I'm going to ring the bell on Wall Street Monday morning, pretty cool, and also throw the first pitch in a Yankees game on Tuesday.

GORDON SIMPSON: How did that all go about? That's unusual to say the least of, Wall Street.

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Yeah, it's bizarre. Through IMG, they have done a great job in looking after my affairs. And obviously they know the connection with Michael Campbell with IMG, so that's how I got notified of all these activities going on. And there's been other fun things, too. Trust me, it's been great.

Q. Have you ever thrown a ball before?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Yeah, I've thrown a ball before. I used to play softball softball is similar to baseball in New Zealand, until I was 16 years old. It's a big sport in New Zealand, softball.

Q. Just going back to the weather this week, you've spoken about preparing yourself for it, is it making sure you don't go into negative thinking, just positive?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: I mean, this is it. Basically you've got to say to yourself, same for everybody else. It's going to be wet and cold, the course is going to be playing long, so no point in whinging about it, just go on with the job. That's the bottom line.

A lot of people, before we tee off, if the weather is cold and wet and windy, before we tee off, more than half the field have given up already, and that's just the way it is. And the talk in the locker room right now is it's going to be cold and there's going on but why worry about it. My whole thing is just go out and play golf and see if you can win against the elements besides your peers. It would be nice to go out there and play well against the toughest elements as in the golf course itself is a tough test and obviously the rain and the wind.

Q. What do you think when you hear people whinge?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: It's fantastic. I think it's great. That means these guys are gone already; they added a two shot mentality before they teed off. So it's fantastic.

Q. Have you been guilty of whinging yourself?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Yes, I think to be honest with you, I have been in a locker room but nothing to do with the golf course or the weather. It's my attitude, not the situation.

I want to seize the moment every time I come and play now. Here we're in Ireland and playing golf in the Irish Open at a great golf course, at least enjoy it. Let's not wince about the weather. I mean, it's great, we'll have a Guinness is here, the people are wonderful, so let's have some fun.

Q. What do you think about Michelle Wie playing in the European Masters?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: I was waiting for that. No, I can go two different ways here on this question, and I can be politically correct and say it's wonderful to see Michelle Wie at a European Tour event and to promote the European Masters. Or, I could say that she's got to prove herself that she can win on the woman's tour before she can even have a chance on the men's tour.

Let's face it, look at Annika Sorenstam, obviously one of the best tournament golfers we've ever seen, and she deserved to come over and play on the men's tour in the U.S. and unfortunately she didn't make the cut.

But, you know, Michelle Wie is obviously a wonderful talent. I've never met her. I've heard she hits it long, as long as the guys. But she needs to prove to herself more so than anybody else that she can win on the ladies tour before she can come out and actually make a cut on The European Tour or the U.S. Tour. You know, she's come close a few times I believe in Hawaii, is it, or something. She's made a cut over in Korea. But obviously the quality of the field isn't as strong.

So I think it's a hard thing to talk about. I think she's a wonderful talent. To see her come over and play on The European Tour, I think it's great for the Tour, but I think it takes away a sponsor's invite for a guy who is struggling to actually regain his card maybe, I don't know.

But it's up to the sponsors and good luck to them. I know that it's more viable for them to send over Michelle Wie commercially. But in this game, it's not all about the money, making money. You've got to this game is all about just having fun rather than making money all the time. You know, the sponsors believe that having Michelle Wie at the tournament is going to help them commercially, so good luck to them.

Q. Is that the difference between winning a Major and not - whinging about things or handling everything?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: You get to Augusta, we get to Pinehurst last year and there's guys wincing about how fast the greens or and how hard they are and how undulating they are. You just think, once again, they have a one shot penalty before they tee off or a two shot penalty before they tee off. I just think, let's get on with the job, you know. That's my attitude towards it, anyway. If they have a different mind set towards that week and could just be more positive about it, that's when I think they can maybe get up a hurdle and finally win their first major.

Q. Did you sort yourself out or someone else?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Myself probably. There's certain things that psychologists can teach you and certain things they can't. I've learned more about the game of golf just I don't know, I've just somehow locked onto a few things that really worked for me probably the last 12 months, not through the help of a psychologist. I think through the years, the experience I've had over the last 15 years as a pro I'm 37 now, Jesus, that's getting on.

Q. Did you take a lead from the All Blacks?

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Well, funny enough, I asked an All Black. If you think about it, they play in the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri Nation Series every year. And I said to some of the guys, I said how do you actually go there and try to defend your Tri Nations Cup. And they said to me, no, they try and go out and win.

And that's one thing that helped me win back to back titles was for I think the Vines about 2001, I asked Zinzan Brooke who is a very good friend of mine, captain of the All Black team. I said: "Look, I've got a problem about defending my titles."

He said: "Just go with the mind set of trying to actually win it." As soon as I did that, I won my back to back Heineken Classics in Perth.

So when I mentioned before about the whole thing about Winged Foot is I'm going to go and try and win it again, not try to defend it. It's funny, last week I had to give back the trophy, so it's time now. It was like my right arm the last 11 months. It was there all the time, in Sydney, in England, and it's been traveling with me for the last 11 months. I gave it a kiss good bye and I said, "I'll see you later, girl."

Q. Can you forget that you're the defending champion

MICHAEL CAMPBELL: Yeah, I just think that one simple word changed. Just the whole affirmations things that I've been doing last 12 months, positive affirmations is going to help you succeed in your chosen whether it's winning golf tournaments or whatever. If you just change the words around, it's just it's not it's very simple stuff.

End of FastScripts.

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